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Cornell University Library 
DS 451.5.S66 

Asoka^ the Buddhist emperor of India. 


3 1924 024 066 395 

Cornell University 

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Plate I 

Asoka's Pillar at Lauriya-Nandangarh 
















A VOLUME on Asoka Maurya by Professor Rhys 
Davids was intended to be the first of the 'Rulers 
of India ' series, but unfortunately circumstances pre- 
vented the fulfilment of that intention, and the series 
was closed leaving vacant the niche destined for the 
great Buddhist emperor. With the approval of Pro- 
fessor Rhys Davids I have undertaken the preparation 
of a supplementary volume giving in a popular form 
the substance of what is known concerning the 
Maurya empire. The sources of our knowledge of 
ancient Indian history are so meagre that it is im- 
possible to treat the subject of this volume in a 
manner similar to that in which the biographies of 
Akbar, Albuquerque, and other Indian worthies have 
been treated. All minute biographical details are 
lacking, and a distinct picture of the man Asoka 
cannot be painted. Nevertheless, enough is .known 
to render the subject interesting, and if my book 
should fail to interest readers, the fault will lie 
rather with the author than with the subject. 

The chapter entitled ' The History of Asoka ' will 
be found to difier widely from all other publications, 
such as Cunningham's BhUsa Topes, which treat of 
that topic. I have tried to follow the example of 
the best modem historians, and to keep the legends 


separate from what seems to me to be authentic 
history. Among the legends I have placed the stories 
of the conversion of Ceylon and of the deliberations of 
the so-called Third Council. All the forms of those 
stories which have reached us are crowded with 
absurdities and contradictions from which legitimate 
criticism cannot extract trustworthy history. 

I reject absolutely the Ceylonese chronology prior 
to the reign of Dutthagamini in about B. C. i6o. The 
undeserved credit given to the statements of the monks 
of Ceylon has been a great hindrance to the right un- 
derstanding of ancient Indian history. 

The translations of the inscriptions in this volume 
are based on those of Biihler, checked by comparison 
with the versions of other scholars, especially those of 
MM. Kern and Senart, and with the texts. Although 
I do not pretend to possess a critical knowledge of the 
Pali and Prakrit languages, and have, therefore, rarely 
ventured on an independent interpretation, I hope that 
the revised versions in this volume may be found to 
be both accurate and readable. 

A difficulty experienced by all translators of the 
Asoka inscriptions is that of finding an adequate 
compendious translation of dharma and its com- 
pounds. ' Religion,' ' righteousness,' ' truth,' ' the law,' 
' the sacred law,' and, I dare say, other phrases, have 
been tried : all these are unsatisfactory. To my mind 
the rendering 'piety' or 'law of piety' seems the 
best. The fundamental principle of Asoka's ethics is 
filial piety, the Latin pietas, the Chinese Hsiao, which 


is presented as the model and basis of all other virtues. 
The first maxim of the Chinese 'Sacred Edict,' the 
document most nearly resembling Asoka's Edicts, is 
this : ' Pay just regard to filial and fraternal duties, in 
order to give due importance to the relations of life.' 
Asoka's system may be said to be based on the same 
maxim. Such a system may well be described as 
' the law of piety.' 

In dealing with the vexed question of transliteration 
I have shunned the pedantic atrocities of international 
systems, which do not shrink from presenting Krishna 
in the guise of Krsna, Champa as iTampa, and so on. 
The consonants in the Indian words and names in 
this book are to be pronounced as in English, and 
the vowels usually as in Italian. The short a has 
an indistinct sound as in the word ' woman.' Long 
vowels are marked when necessary ; other diacritical 
marks have not been used in the text. 



I. The History OF AsoKA ii 

Chkonology op the Matjeya Period . .61 
II. Extent and Administration op the Empire . 66 

III. The Monuments 87 

IV. The Rock Inscriptions 114 

V. The Cave and Pillar Inscriptions . . .144 

VI. The Ceylonese Legend op Asoka . . -159 
VII. The Indian Legends of Asoka . . . .175 

Appendix 196 

Index 197 


1. The Pillar atLauriyA-Nandangarh . Frontispiece 

2. Inscription ON the RuMMiNDEi Pillar .to face page 145 


The History of Asoka 

When Alexander, invincible before all enemies 
save death, passed away at Babylon in the summer 
of the year B.C. 323, and his generals assembled in 
council to divide his empire, they were compelled 
perforce to decide that the distant Indian provinces 
should remain in the hands of the officers to whom 
they had been entrusted by the king. But the 
decision of the fate of India no longer rested with 
Greek generals in council at Babylon, for the natives 
of the country took the decision into their own hands. 

In the cold season following the death of Alexander 
the natives rose, killed the officers who represented 
Macedonian authority, and, while thinking to achieve 
independence, merely effected a change of masters. 
Their leader was a man of humble origin, by name 
Chandragupta Maurya, who assembled and organized 
from the predatory tribes of the north-western frontier 
of India a powerful force with which he expelled 
the foreigners. Having conquered the Panjab and 
neighbouring countries, Chandragupta turned his 
arms against Dhana Nanda, King of Magadha, whom 


he dethroned and slew. The usurper seated himself 
upon the vacant throne of Pataliputra, and ruled the 
realm with an iron hand. 

Magadha was at that time the premier kingdom of 
India, and the irresistible combination of its forces 
with those previously recruited in the upper provinces 
enabled Chandragupta to extend his rule over the 
greater part of India from sea to sea. 

Seleucus, sumamed Nikator, or the Conqueror, by 
reason of his many victories, had established himself 
as Satrap of Babylon after the second division of 
Alexander's empire made at Paradeisos in B.C. 321. 
Six years later he was driven out by his rival 
Antigonus, and compelled to flee to Egypt. After 
three years' exile he recovered Babylon, and devoted 
himself to the consolidation and extension of his 
power. He attacked and subjugated the Bactrians, 
and directed his victorious army against India in 
the hope of regaining the provinces which had been 
for a brief space held by his late master. But the 
vast hosts of teeming India led by Chandragupta 
were more than a match for the power of the 
Macedonian, who was compelled to renounce his 
ambition of surpassing Alexander by eflfecting the 
conquest of India, and to withdraw from the country. 
Terms of peace were arranged which comprised a 
matrimonial alliance between the two royal houses, 
and the cession to Chandragupta of all the Indian 
provinces of Alexander's empire, including the regions 
now known as Afghanistan, as far as the Parapa- 


nisus or Hindoo Koosh mountaina. On his part, 
Chandragupta gave five hundred elephants to Seleucus. 
In the year b. c. 306 Seleucus assumed the regal title, 
as also did the other generals of Alexander in their 
respective provinces. Henceforth Seleucus is known 
to history as King of Syria. 

About this time, or a little later, the Syrian 
monarch dispatched Megasthenes as his ambassador 
to the court of Chandragupta, at PS,taliputra on the 
Ganges, the modem Patna and Bankipore. Mega- 
sthenes resided there for a considerable time, and, 
fortunately for posterity, took the trouble to record 
what he saw, A large part of his book has survived 
in fragments, which are almost the sole authority for 
what is known of India in the days of Chandragupta. 
The ambassador found the government of the Indian 
king strong and well organized, established in a 
magnificent fortified city, worthy to be the capital 
of a great kingdom. The royal camp at the capital 
was estimated to contain 400,000 souls, and an efficient 
standing army numbering 60,000 infantry, 30,000 
cavalry, 8,000 elephants, and a multitude of chariots, 
was maintained at the king's expense. On active 
service the army is said to have attained the huge 
total of 600,000 men^. 

' The authorities for the history of Chandragupta (Sandra- 
kottos, SandrakoptoB, Androkottos) are Arrian, Anabasis, Bk. v. 
ch. 6; Indika, various passages; Q. Curtius, Bk. viii. ch. 9; 
Plutarch, Life of Alexander, ch. 62 ; Justin, Bk. xv. ch. 4 ; 
Appian, SyriakS, ch. 55; Strabo, ii. 1. 9, and xv. 1.36; ibid, 
i. 53 and i. 57; Athenaios, Deipnosophists, ch. 18 rf; Pliny, 


With this overwhelming and well-equipped force 
Chandragupta crushed all rivals, and became the 
first Emperor of India. After twenty-four years of 
strong government he died, and transmitted the 
empire which he had won to his son Bindusara 
Amitraghata ^, who reigned for twenty-five years. 
The only recorded event of his reign is the dispatch 
to his court of an ambassador named Deimaehos 
by the King of Syria. In the year b. c. a8o Seleucus 
Nikator, who was in the seventy-eighth year of his 
age, was murdered, and was succeeded on the Syrian 

Hist. Nat. vi. 21. 8-23. All these passages have been collected 
and accurately translated by Mr. M'^Crindle in his valuable 
books entitled, The Invasion of India hy Alexander the Great 
(Constable, 1896) ; and Ancient India as described hy Mega- 
sthenes and Arrian (Trubner, 1877). The passage in Justin is 
the most important. Justin abridged the work of Trogus 
Pompeius, who lived in the time of Augustus. The ultimate 
authority of all these writers is chiefly Megasthenes, whom 
Arrian [Indiha, xvii) describes as a man 'of approved character.' 
Strabo, who was disgusted by the travellers' tales with which 
the ambassador embellished his work, formed a less favourable 
opinion of Megasthenes, whom he unjustly stigmatized as a 
liar. For all matters which came under his personal observation 
Megasthenes seems perfectly trustworthy. 

' Bindus3,ra (Vishnu Pur&na, Mahdvamsa, Dtpavamsa, Pari- 
sishtaparvan of the Jains) ; Bhadrasara ( V&yu Purdna) ; Nanda- 
sara (Brahmdnda Purdna) ; Varisara (Ehdgavata Purdna). 
Strabo (quoted. Ancient India, p. 70) records the mission of 
Deimaehos to Amitrochades, the son of Chandragupta. Ami- 
trochades (Skr. Amitraghata) must therefore be a title of 
BindusS,ra. Indian kings are frequently known by two names. 
See Miss Duff's excellent work, The Chronology of India 
(Constable, 1899). 


throne by his son Antiochus Soter. Eight yeai?s after 
the death of Seleucus, Asoka, a son of BindusS-ra, and 
the third sovereign of the Maurya dynasty, ascended 
the throne of Pataliputra, and undertook the govern- 
ment of the Indian empire. 

According to the silly fictions of mendacious monks, 
Asoka waded to the throne through a sea of blood, 
securing his position by the massacre of ninety -nine 
brothers, one brother only, the youngest, being saved 
alive. These fictions, an extract of which will be 
found in a later chapter, do not merit serious criti- 
cism. The inscriptions prove that the brothers and 
sisters of the king were still living in the middle of 
the reign, and that they and all the members of the 
royal family were the objects of the sovereign's anxious 
solicitude^. The empire won and consolidated by 
the genius of Chandragupta had passed to his son 
BindusS,ra, and when, after the lapse of twenty-five 
years,, the sceptre again passed from the hands of 
Bindus§,ra to those of his son Asoka, there is no 
reason to suppose that bloodshed was necessary to 
secure the succession. Of the events of the first 
eight years of Asoka's reign no record has survived. 
In his ninth year he undertook the conquest of the 
kingdom of Kalinga on the coast of the Bay of 
Bengal. His arms were successful, and the extensive 
territories of Kalinga were incorporated with the 
empire. But the horrors which must accompany 

» Rock Edicts IV, V, VI ; Pillar Edict VII ; Queen's Edict. 


war, even successful war, made a deep impression on 
the heart of the victorious monarch, who has recorded 
on the rocks in imperishable words the sufferings 
of the vanquished and the remorse of the victor. 
The record is instinct with personal feeling, and still 
carries across the ages the moan of a human soul. 
The king, who adopts in his edicts the title of 
Priyadarsin (or Piyadasi), meaning ' the Humane,' and 
omits his personal name of Asoka, speaks thus : — 

' His Majesty King Priyadarsin in the ninth year of his 
reign conquered the Kalingas. 

One hundred and fifty thousand persons were thence carried 
away captive, one hundred thousand were there slain, and 
many times that number perished. 

Ever since the annexation of the Kalingas, His Majesty 
has zealously protected the Law of Piety, has been devoted 
to that Law, and has proclaimed its precepts. 

His Majesty feels remorse on account of the conquest of 
the Kalingas, because, during the subjugation of a previously 
unconquered country, slaughter, death, and taking away 
captive of the people necessarily occur, whereat His Majesty 
feels profound sorrow and regret. 

There is, however, another reason for His Majesty feeling 
still more regret, inasmuch as in such a country dwell 
Brahmans and ascetics, men of different sects, and house- 
holders, who all practise obedience to elders, obedience to 
father and mother, obedience to teachers, proper treatment 
of friends, acquaintances, comrades, relatives, slaves, and 
servants, with fidelity of devotion. 

To such people dwelling in that country happen violence, 
slaughter, and separation from those they love. 

Even those persons who are themselves protected, retain 


their affections undiministied : ruin falls on their friends, 
acquaintances, comrades, and relatives, and in this way 
violence is done to (the feelings of) those -who are personally 

All this diffused misery is matter of regret to His 
Majesty. For there is no country in -which are not found 
countless communities of Brahmans and ascetics, nor is there 
any country where the people have faith in one sect only. 

The loss of even the hundredth or the thousandth part 
of the persons who were then slain, carried away captive, 
or done to death in Kalinga would now be a matter of 
deep regret to His Majesty. 

Although a man should do him an injury. His Majesty 
holds that it must be patiently borne, so far as it possibly 
can be borne. 

Even upon the forest tribes in his dominions His Majesty 
has compassion, though advised to destroy them in detail, 
and though the power to harry them is in His Majesty's 
hands. They are warned to this effect : " Shun evil-doing, 
that ye may escape destruction." For His Majesty desires 
for all animate beings security, control over the passions, 
peace of mind and joyousness. 

And this is the chiefest conquest, -in His Majesty's 
opinion, the conquest by the Law of Piety ^' 

The only authentic account of the reasons w^hich 
induced Asoka to adopt the Buddhist dharina, or Law 
of Piety, as the rule of his life and the foundation of 
public morality, is the edict above quoted. The 
grotesque and contradictory tales told by monkish 
romancers as explanations of the great king's change 

^ Rock Edict XIII. M. Senart, in J. R. As. Soc. for 1900, 
pp. 335-342 proposes certain corrections based on a fragment 
recently discovered at Gimar. Cp. Minor Rock Edict I. 



of heart are in themselves incredible, as well as in- 
compatible with the simple and credible explanation 
given in the king's own words. 

Doubtless some now forgotten preacher, who 
possessed the gift of persuasiveness, must have so 
expounded the doctrine of the Sakya sage as to 
awaken the royal conscience, and to evoke the feeling 
of remorse for the horrors of war which is so vividly 
expressed in the edict. The feeling, however aroused, 
was genuine, and is the keynote for the interpretation 
of the whole series of the edicts. The passage quoted 
was composed in the thirteenth year of the reign. The 
last of the dated edicts belongs to the twenty-eighth 
year. Nothing that was written in the interval is 
inconsistent with the declaration that the only true 
conquest is that effected by the Law of Piety, and not 
conquest by force of arms. 

The conclusion is therefore justified that the sub- 
jugation of Kalinga was the only great military 
achievement of the reign, and that from his ninth 
year Asoka eschewed military glory, and devoted 
himself to the problems of internal administration, 
with the special object of promulgating and enforcing 
the Buddhist Law of Piety, as being the best means 
of securing the happiness and welfare of his subjects 
and neighbours. The tenth Rock Edict, published 
in the fourteenth year of the reign, has for its special 
subject the contrast between true glory and military 

We have Asoka's own authority for stating that in 


the ninth year of his reign, for the reasons above 
explained, he joined the Buddhist community as a lay 

He tells us that for about two years and a half he 
displayed little zeal as a convert. Towards the close 
of the eleventh year of his reign his interest in the 
Buddhist teaching was in some way stimulated ; and 
he resolved to devote his life and all the resources 
of his imperial power to the promulgation and pro- 
pagation of the doctrine which, in his opinion, opened 
the gate of heaven, and secured the happiness and 
welfare of mankind here and hereafter. 

He therefore took upon himself the vows of a 
Buddhist monk or friar, and joined the Order (samgha). 
The spectacle of a reigning monarch turned m6nk is 
so strange to modem European eyes that the fact of 
Asoka's ordination has been doubted, and attempts 
have been made to explain away the plain language 
in which the king (Minor Rock Edict I) contrasts 
his position as a careless lay disciple with that which 
he had attained as a zealous monk. But no sufficient 
reason exists for hesitation in accepting Asoka's 
language in its natural sense. Biihler has been able 
to cite one parallel case, that of the Chaulukya king, 
Kumarapala, a Jain, who assumed the title of 'lord 
of the Order,' and at various periods of his reign 
took vows of continence, temperance, abstention from 
animal food, and refraining from confiscation of the 
property of the faithful. It is probable that Asoka 
similarly undertook vows of imperfect and limited 

B a 


obligation. It is also possible that he once, or several 
times, adopted the practices of a Buddhist mendicant 
friar for a few days at a time, during which periods 
of retreat his ministers would have administered the 
kingdom. The Buddhist ceremony of ordination 
{upasaTnpadd) does not convey indelible orders, or 
involve a life-long vow. Both in Burma and Ceylon 
men commonly enter the Order temporarily, and after 
a time resume civil life. Asoka could have done the 
same, and a proceeding which is easy for an ordinary 
man is doubly easy for an emperor. A formal com- 
pliance with the rules, requiring the monk to beg his 
bread, could have been arranged for without difficulty 
within the precincts of the palace. The fact that 
Asoka did really become a Buddhist monk is vouched 
for by an independent testimony, which is the more 
valuable because it is contained in an incidental 
remark. A thousand years after Asoka's time, the 
Chinese pilgrim, I-tsing, notes that the statues of 
Asoka represent hira as wearing a monk's robe of 
a particular pattern. The emperor could not have 
worn such a robe, unless he had joined the Order, as 
he says that he did '. 

' I have adopted Biihler's and Kern's interpretation of Minor 
Rook Edict I (Ind. Ant. vi. 1 54 ; Manual of Indian Buddhism, 
p. 1 1 4) . The status of updsaka, or lay-disciple , is contrasted with 
that of the person who has entered the Order (samgha). See 
Hardy, Eastern Monachism, p. 46. I-tsing [A Record of Buddhist 
Practices, ch. xi), when discussing the mode in which Buddhist 
monks should wear their garments, explains a particular fashion, 
and adds (p. 73, ed. Takakusu) : ' The image of king Asoka 


Asoka's zeal for the propagation and enforcement 
of the practical moral code of Buddhism, or Law of 
Piety, led him not only to adopt within his own 
vast dominions the measures which seemed best 
adapted to the purpose, but also to engage in a well- 
considered scheme of missionary eflfort \ In the 
space of two years between the emperor's entry into 
the Order in the eleventh year and the publication 
of his earliest inscriptions in the thirteenth year of 
the reign, missions charged with the preaching of the 
doctrine of the Sakya sage had been dispatched to 
Ceylon and the independent kingdoms in the south 
of the Peninsula, to Mysore and the Bombay coast, to 
the Mahratta country, to the mountaineers of the 
Himalayas and Kashmir, and to Pegu. Although 
criticism cannot accept the wonderful tales told by 
monkish writers of the sudden and wholesale con- 
versions effected by the missionaries of Asoka, there 
is no doubt that the missions laid the foundations of 
the Buddhist church in all the countries named. In 
Ceylon their work abides to this day. 

The dispatch of missionaries by Asoka is, indeed, 

has its garment in this way.' Cunningham (Bhilsa Topes, 
p. 197, PL x) guessed that the fine statue crowning the northern 
detached pillar at Stochi might be one of Asoka; but that figure 
is clothed in a waistcloth (dhoti) only, and has a nimbus. 
It cannot, therefore, be intended to represent the emperor. 

' See Rock Edict VI : ' And what is the object of all my 
exertion? Simply to acquit my debt to living beings — that 
I may make some of them happy here, and that hereafter they 
may attain to heaven.' 


one of the facts of primary importance in the 
history of mankind. For about two centuries 
and a half prior to Asoka's conversion Buddhism 
had maintained its position in a portion of the valley 
of the Ganges as a sect of Hinduism. Its founder, 
Gautama Sakyamuni, was bom, lived, and died 
within the region comprised between 82° and 86° 
east longitude and 24° to 28° north latitude, or, in 
other words, the country between Gaya, AUahabad, 
and the hills. 

So far as we can see, the transformation of this 
local sect into a world-religion is the work of Asoka 
alone. The romances written by monks naturally 
represent the king as a tool in the hands of his 
clerical advisers, to whom all the credit of the 
missionary enterprise is given. But the monuments 
do not support this view. Asoka claims aU the credit 
for himself. Inasmuch as he must have been an 
exceptionally able man to have succeeded in governing 
with distinction a vast empire throughout a long- 
reign, it is not probable that he was ever the slave 
of the priests, and he is fairly entitled to the credit of 
the measures taken in his name. 

Within his own dominions Asoka provided for the 
comfort of man and beast by the plantation of shade- 
giving and fruit-bearing trees, the digging of wells, 
and the erection of rest-houses and watering-places at 
convenient intervals along the high roads. He devoted 
special attention to the cultivation and dissemination 
of medicinal herbs and roots, both within his own 


dominions and in the territories of friendly indepen- 
dent sovereigns '. 

In the thirteenth year of the reign, as a special' 
means for the inculcation of the royal teaching, all 
local governors were ordered to hold assemblies in 
which the Law of Piety should be preached, expounded, 
and discussed. The officials of subordinate rank were 
bound to attend these assemblies to receive instruction 
from their superiors, and were warned that this duty 
must not be allowed to interfere with the discharge 
of ordinary official business. In most places these 
assemblies were to be convoked quinquenniaUy, but 
the Viceroys stationed at Taxila in the Panjab, and 
at Ujjain in Central India, were required to hold such 
assemblies once every three years ^. 

The experience of another year convinced the king 
that more elaborate official organization was neces- 
sary in order to give full effect to his instructions. 
He therefore appointed special officers, whose title 
(dharma mahdmdtra) may be rendered as 'Censors of 
the Law of Piety,' to supervise the execution of his 
precepts. These officers were instructed to devote 
themselves to the establishment and furtherance of 
piety, not only among the king's faithful lieges, but 
among the semi-independent border tribes. They 

' Eock Edict II; Pillar Edict VII. The word chikisaka 
(chikiccha, Grirnar) is translated 'remedes' by M. Senart. 
Biihler adopts the older interpretation and translates ' hospitals.' 
It is difficult to decide which is right. 

' Rock Edict III ; Detached (Kalinga) Rock Edicts. 


were in general terms directed to use their best 
endeavours to secure the welfare and happiness of 
all classes of the population, and were specially ordered 
to watch over the interests of the poor and aged, to 
prevent the infliction of wrongful imprisonment or 
corporal punishment, and to grant remissions of 
sentence in cases where the criminal was advanced 
in years, burdened with a large family, or over- 
whelmed by sudden calamity. The censors were 
further enjoined to superintend, both at the capital 
and in the provincial towns, the female establishments 
of the king's brothers and sisters, and of all other 
members of the royal family ; and also to exercise 
a general control over all persons devoted to pious 
works and almsgiving. 

Later in the reign a Royal Almoner's department, 
administered by the censors and other high officials, 
was organized, and charged with the distribution 
of the gifts made by the sovereign and his queens. 
A short special edict, known as the Queen's Edict, 
addressed to officials of the Almoner's department, has 
been preserved ^. 

The edicts furnish several summaries of the dharma, 
or Law of Piety, on the establishment and propaga- 
tion of which the king had set his heart. By combining 
these summaries the leading provisions of that Law 
may be stated as follows : — 

All men are regarded by the sovereign as his 
children, owing him filial obedience, and entitled to 

' Rock Edicts V, XII ; Pillar Edict VII ; Queen's Edict. 


receive from him a parent's care. Every man is 
bound to cultivate the virtues of self-control, purity 
of mind, gratitude, and fidelity. On the other hand, 
he should abstain from the vices of rage, cruelty, 
anger, pride, and jealousy. He should constantly 
practise self-examination, and be strictly truthful. 
Great stress is laid on the imperative duty of re- 
specting the sanctity of all animal life, and of treat- 
ing all living creatures with kindness. Obedience 
to father and mother is declared to be essential ; the 
aged are to receive due reverence from the young, and 
the teacher from his pupil. Relatives, ascetics, and 
Brahmans are to be treated with decorum ; servants, 
and even slaves, with kindness. Liberality must be 
shown to friends, acquaintances, relatives, ascetics, and 
Brahmans. All sects and creeds are in fundamental 
agreement about essentials, and all alike aim at the 
attainment of purity of mind and self-control, there- 
fore he who follows the path marked out by the Law 
of Piety must abstain from speaking aught evil 
concerning his neighbour's faith ^. 

' Summaries of the Law of Piety are given in Rock Edicts 
III, IV, VII, IX, XI, XIII ; Minor Rock Edict, No. 2. of Siddfipura ; 
Pillar Edicts III and VII. Compare the Chinese doctrine of 
hsiao, or filial reverence, which is treated as the foundation of 
all virtue. The Sacred Edict, sermons officially issued by the 
second and third emperors of the present dynasty, is the nearest 
parallel to the Asoka Edicts. The ' Sacred Edict ' was well 
translated by the Rev. William Milne, under the title of ' The 
Sacred Edict, containing sixteen maxims of the emperor Kang- 
he, amplified by his son, the emperor Yoong-ching' (London, 


Supplementary instructions addressed to the royal 
officers in their official capacity point out that the 
ideal official should be free from envy, harshness, and 
impatience. Perseverance and the firm determination 
to resist all temptations to indolence or discourage- 
ment are the root of success in the performance of 
official duty. Officers are warned that they cannot 
hope for the favour either of heaven or of their 
sovereign if they fail to comply fully with his com- 
mands, and the officials in the conquered province of 
Kalinga are censured for a partial failure in the 
execution of the duties laid upon them ^. 

In a passage of the ' True Conquest Edict,' already 
quoted, Asoka declares his unwillingness to proceed 
to extremities against the wild jungle-folk who at 
many points dwelt on the borders of his settled 
provinces. Such folk abounded on the borders of 
Kalinga, as they do to this day, and a very in- 
teresting edict, dating from the fourteenth year, 
specially addressed to the governor and magistrates 
of that province, and published in it only, gives 
particular instructions concerning the principles on 
which the wild tribes should be treated. The king 
reiterates his declaration that all men, even wild 
jungle-tribes, are his children, and insists that his 
officers must give efiect to his views. They are 
instructed that it is His Majesty's will and immutable 
resolve that every effi)rt must be made to inspire the 
border tribes with confidence, and to persuade them 
' Detached Rock Edicts ; Pillar Edicts I, IV. 


that the kmg desires them to receive at his hands 
happiness and not sorrow. If they will but trust 
in the royal sincerity, they may relieve their minds 
of all disquietude and abide in peace. The officials 
are further enjoined to persuade the tribes that the 
best way to secure the sovereign's good will, and to 
assure their own welfare both in this world and in 
the next, is to faithfully practise the Law of Piety 
which his orders commend to them ^. 

If Asoka had the happiness to find many frontier 
officers who were competent to fully act up to the 
principles thus enunciated, he was, indeed, a fortunate 
sovereign; but, unfortunately, while the admirable 
instructions have survived, little is known concerning 
their practical operation. 

Several edicts record the successive steps taken by 
the king to give efiect to the principle of the sanctity 
of animal life, which was one of his cardinal doctrines. 
In the first eight years of his reign he was not 
troubled with any scruples on the subject, and vast 
multitudes of animals were each day slaughtered for 
the supply of the royal kitchens. From the ninth to 
the thirteenth year of the reign two peacocks and one 
deer were, as a rule, killed daily for the king's table ; 
but from the latter year, when the edicts of the Law 
of Piety were first issued, and the religious assemblies 
were instituted, even this modest supply was stopped, 
and no living creature was compelled to surrender its 
life in order to gratify the royal appetite. 

> Detached Rock Edict, so-called No. II. 


In the eleventh year of his reign, when Asoka, to 
use his own phrase, entered on the path of true know- 
ledge, he gave up the pleasures of the chase, and sub- 
stituted for hunting-parties pious tours, or pilgrimages, 
devoted to almsgiving, preaching, and ethical discus- 
sion. In the thirteenth year of the reign, in addition 
to the stoppage of slaughter for the supply of the royal 
table, slaughter of animals for sacrifice was prohibited 
at the capital. The king did not apparently attempt 
to prohibit animal sacrifices throughout his dominions, 
knowing that such a prohibition could not be en- 
forced. At the capital holiday feasts, which ordinarily 
involved the destruction of animal life, were also pro- 
hibited. In the twenty-seventh year of the reign 
Asoka felt himself strong enough to further protect 
the sanctity of animal life by. an elaborate code of 
detailed regulations, binding on all classes of the 
population without distinction of creed, social 
customs, or religious feeling. 

A long list was published of animals the slaughter 
of which was absolutely prohibited, and this absolute 
prohibition was extended to all four-footed animals of 
which the carcasses are not eaten or otherwise utilized 
by man. This regulation largely interfered with the 
sportsman's liberty, and its terms would seem to 
denounce the killing of a tiger or a lion as being 
unlawful. The remaining rules were directed to the 
imposition of restrictions on the slaughter of animals 
permitted to be killed, and to the prohibition or miti- 
gation of different kinds of mutilation. 


On fifty -six specified days in the year fish might not 
be either caught or sold, and on the same days, even 
in game preserves, animals might not be destroyed. 
On all festival days and many other specified days, 
aggregating about a quarter of the year, the castration 
of bulls and other quadrupeds was prohibited. The 
caponing of cocks was absolutely prohibited at all 
times. During five particular fortnights the branding 
of horses and cattle was declared unlawful. The en- 
forcement of these minute regulations must have given 
plenty of employment to the censors and magistrates ^. 
Monkish legend, mendacious in this particular as 
in so many others, asserts that Asoka abolished the 
punishment of death. His legislation proves that 
the idea of such abolition never entered his thoughts. 
His language implies that he regarded the death 
penalty as an unavoidable necessity, which might 
be made less horrible than it had been, but could 
not be done away with. Asoka, while recognizing 
the necessity for arming the magistrates with power 
to inflict the extreme penalty of the law, exercised 
his royal prerogative of pardon, and on each anni- 
versary of his solemn coronation liberated all con- 
demned prisoners. In the twenty-seventh year of 
the reign a rule was introduced that every prisoner 
condemned to death should invariably be granted 
a respite of three days before execution, in which to 
prepare himself for the next world ^. 

' Rock Edicts I, VIII ; Pillar Edicts V, VII. 
2 Hilar Edict IV. 

30 . ASOKA 

Asoka attached the greatest importance to the 
utmost possible promptitude in the administration of 
justice, and to the readiness of the sovereign to hear 
complaints at all times and at all places. His views 
would still meet with general approval from the 
natives of India, who prize very highly readiness of 
access to their rulers, and set no value whatever upon 
regularity of procedure. Asoka announced to his 
people that he was ready at any place, and at any 
hour of the day or night, to receive and redress 
complaints. No more popular announcement could 
be made by an Indian sovereign, although to the 
Western mind it seems unpractical and unbusiness- 
like. When Asoka adds to this announcement the 
emphatic declaration — 

' I am never satisfied Tvith the adequacy of my exertions 
or the promptitude of my decision of cases. Work I must 
for the public benefit, and . . . the object of all my exertion 
is simply to acquit, my debt to living beings, so that I may 
make some of them happy in this world, and that hereafter 
they may attain heaven,' 

— he is entitled to be believed ^. The immense trouble 
which he took to promulgate and propagate his 
teaching proves both his sincerity and his habits of 
industry. The vigorous impulse which his powerful 
patronage undoubtedly gave to Buddhism demon- 
strates that his efforts were not in vain, and that his 
missionary zeal, although it must have encountered 
many obstacles and suffered many disappointments, 
^ Rock Edict VI. 


was justified by success in the propaganda so ener- 
getically worked. 

Asoka placed great reliance upon his personal 
example as a powerful influence in the conversion of 
his people and his neighbours to his way of thinking. 
He had no hesitation in recording more than once 
the belief that he had done many good deeds, and 
was persuaded that the good deeds of the sovereign 
were readily imitated by loyal subjects. 

' Whatsoever meritorious deeds I have done,' he observes, 
' those deeds the people have copied and imitated ; whence 
foUovrs the consequence that growth is now taking place, 
and will further increase, in the virtues of obedience to 
father and mother, obedience to teachers, reverence to the 
aged, and kindly treatment of Brahmans and ascetics, of 
the poor and wretched, yea, even of slaves and servants ^.' 

No doubt the personal example of the sovereign, 
supported by all the efforts of a highly organized 
bureaucracy and a rich and zealous clergy, must have 
been a potent factor in securing popular adherence to 
the royal views. 

The Bhabra Edict stands alone in its outspoken 
avowal of Asoka's devotion to Buddhism. The other 
edicts are concerned with practical morals only, and 
are so drafted that their teaching might be accepted 
by the members of any Indian sect. The Bhabra 
document is addressed to the Buddhist clergy ex- 
clusively, and Was recorded at a monastery situated 
on the top of a remote hill. It was probably not 
1 Pillar Edicts II, VII ; Rock Edict V. 


communicated to the general public, and the existence 
of this peculiar composition must not be taken as 
evidence that Asoka forced the distinctive doctrines 
of Buddhism down the throats of an unwilling people. 
He seems rather to have confined his official propa- 
ganda to the inculcation of practical morality, and 
to have cared little whether or not his pupils formally 
joined the Buddhist church '. 

Asoka looked back with satisfaction on the legis- 
lation which prescribed minute regulations for the 
conservation of animal life and the mitigation of 
suffering, and on many other pious ordinances of which 
he was the author, but candidly admits that such 
ordinances are in themselves of small account, and 
that the growth of living piety must ultimately 
depend, not on external regulations, but on the inward 
conviction wrought in the minds of men by medita- 
tion on moral truth ^. In the same spirit he treats 
with scorn the many corrupt and worthless ceremonies 
commonly performed by the womenkind, and extols 

^ I accept M. Senart's suggestion that the phrase ' the 
Magadhan clergy ' probably means ' the Buddhist clergy,' Ma- 
gadha being regarded as the fountain head of Buddhism. Five 
out of the seven passages cited in the edict as from the Buddhist 
scriptures have been identified in the Nik&yas. (Rhys Davids, 
Dialogues of the Buddha, p. xiii ; Journal of the P&U Text 
Society, 1896 ; J. R. As. Soc, 1898, p. 639.) As to the site of the 
inscription, see Cunningham, Reports, ii. 248, and Corpus Inscrip- 
tionum Indicarum, i. 24. There is no evidence that the edict was 
addressed to the Council of PataUputra, even if that Council 
was ever held. See Kern, Manual of Indian Buddhism, p. no. 

2 Pillar Edict VII. 


as the only true ceremonial a life of piety, which, 
even if it should fail to secure temporal advantages, 
will certainly ensure a harvest of infinite merit to be 
reaped in the world to come ^. 

The eighth Rock Edict, as has been already observed, 
records the institution, in the eleventh year of the 
reign, of royal progresses or tours devoted to pious 
purposes, in lieu of the hunting-parties which had 
previously been customary. The hunting-parties 
enjoyed by Asoka in his unregenerate days must have 
been conducted in the same way as those of his grand- 
father, which are described by Megasthenes as follows; 

' Another purpose for which he [the king] leaves his 
palace is to offer sacrifice ; a third is to go to the chase, for 
which he departs in Bacchanalian fashion. Crowds of 
women surround him, and outside of this circle spearmen 
are ranged. The road is marked off with ropes, and it is 
death, for men and women alike, to pass within the ropes. 
Men with drums and gongs lead the procession. The king 
hunts in the enclosures and shoots arrows from a platform. 
At his side stand two or three armed women. If he hunts 
in the open grounds he shoots from the back of an elephant. 
Of the women, some are in chariots, some on horses, and 
some even on elephants, and they are equipped with weapons 
of every kind as if they were going on a campaign ".' 

The employment of an Amazonian guard composed 
of foreign women is known to have been a regular 
institution of the kings of ancient India. 

For the pleasures of the chase as described above, 

1 Rock Edict IX. 

' Strabo, in M^Crindle, Ancient India, p. 72. 


those of pious tours seem to be rather an inadequate 
substitute. They are described in the eighth Rock 
Edict as consisting of visits and almsgiving to 
Brahmans and ascetics, visits to elders, inspection of 
the country and people, preaching and discussion 
of the Law of Piety, and largess of gold. In these 
latter days, the king remarks, this is the kind of 
pleasure which he enjoys. 

Such a pious tour was undertaken by Asoka in 
the twenty-first year of his reign. Following, 
probably, the route taken by the Buddha when 
on the way to his death, the king started from his 
capital Pataliputra, crossed the Ganges, and entered 
the Vaisali territory of the Lichchhavi tribe, now 
known as the Muzafiarpur and ChampS,ran districts. 
His line of march is marked by the ruins of Vais&.li 
(Basir), which include the Bakhira lion-pillar, by 
the stUpa of Kesariyi, and the lion-pillars of LauriyS. 
ArarSj and LauriyS, Nandangarh. He may then 
either have kept to the east, passing Rampurwa, 
where another lion-pillar lies, and have then crossed 
the passes over the hills to Kusinagara, the scene 
of Gautama Buddha's death, or he may have turned 
westward, crossed the Gandak river, and proceeded 
direct through the Tar§,i to the Lumbini Garden, the 
reputed scene of the birth of Gautama Buddha. At 
the sacred garden he erected a pillar surmounted by 
the figure of a horse, and recorded upon it in beautifully 
incised characters, as perfect to-day as they were 
when first engraved, the brief record : 


' His Majesty, King Piyadasi, in the twenty-first year of 
his -reign, having come in person, did reverence. Because 
here was born Buddha, the Sakya sage, he had a stone 
horse made and set up a stone pillar. Because here the 
Venerable One was born, the village of Lummini has been 
made revenue-free, and has partaken of the king's bounty.' 

The king then passed on some miles further west, 
and did reverence to the sMpa of Kanakamuni, or 
Konakamana, one of the Buddhas, who preceded 
Gautama. Here the king set up another pillar and 
recorded his visit, adding the interesting remark that 
he had already, in the fifteenth year of his reign, for 
the second time, enlarged the st4,pa. There can be 
little doubt that the tour was continued into Nepal 
as far as Lalita Patau and Kathmandu, and again 
towards the west until the royal pilgrim reached 
Sr^vasti, where the river RS,pti emerges from the 
hills, and that he there did reverence to the sacred 
spots where Gautama so long dwelt and preached. 
But the great pillars, each seventy feet high, which 
he erected at Sravasti, though rumoured still to exist, 
remain to be discovered, and at present the course of 
the pilgrimage can be verified at two points only. 

The memory of this pilgrimage was preserved by 
tradition, and the story of it is told in the Sanskrit 
romance called the Asohdvaddna. Although the 
chronology of the romance, which places Asoka only 
a century after the death of Buddha, is manifestly 
erroneous, and no reliance can be placed upon the 
details related, the inscriptions in the Tara,i prove 

c a 


that the legend had a foundation in fact. According 
to the story, which will be found in a later chapter, 
the king, under the guidance of a saint named 
Upagupta, visited in succession the Lumbini Garden, 
Kapilavastu, the Bodhi tree at Buddha GayS,, Rishi- 
patana, or Samath, near Benares, Kusinagara, the 
Jetavana monastery at Sr§,vastt, the st'Apa of Vakkula, 
and the sMpa of Ananda, giving great largess at 
every place except the stilpa of Vakkula, where the 
king gave only a single copper coin, because Saint 
Vakkula had had few obstacles to surmount, and had 
consequently done little good to his fellow creatures '. 
The reason given for refusing largess at the stiUpa 
of Vakkula, although legendary, is in accordance with 
Asoka's character as revealed by his writings. No 
student of the edicts can fail to be struck by the 
purely human and severely practical nature of the 
teaching. The object aimed at is the happiness of 
living creatures, man and beast. The teacher assumes 
and categorically asserts that filial piety and the 
other virtues commended open the path to happiness 
here and hereafter, but no attempt is made to prove 
any proposition by reasoning. No foundation either 

' The site of Kusinagara is still unknown. I am convinced 
that it lies in Nepal beyond the first range of hills. See my 
work entitled The Remains near Kasia, the reputed site of 
Ku(anagara (Allahabad, i8g6). As to the position of Sravasti, 
see J. R. A. S., July, 1898, and January, 1900. 

For the Asokdvaddnn , see Burnouf, Introduction A VHistoire 
du Bouddhisme, and Rajendralala Mitra's Sanskrit Nepalese 


of theology or of metaphysics is laid, and the ethical 
precepts inculcated are set forth for purely practical 
purposes as being self-evidently true. Men are ex- 
horted to work out their own salvation. 

' Whatsoever exertions His Majesty King Priyadarsin has 
made, all are made with a view to the life hereafter, so 
that every one may be freed from peril, which peril is sin. 
Difficult, verily, it is to attain such freedom, whether a man 
be of low or of high degree, save by the utmost exertion 
and complete self-denial, but especially difficult it is for the 
man of high degree ' (Tenth Rock Edict). 

This passage suggests, as do several other pas- 
sages, familiar Biblical texts, but the spirit of 
the Bible is totally different from that of Asoka's 
teaching. • The Bible, whether in the Old Testa- 
ment or the New, insists upon the relation of man 
with God, and upon man's dependence on the grace 
of God. Asoka, in accordance with the teaching of 
his master, ignores, without denying, the existence 
of a supreme deity, and insists that man should by 
his own exertions free himself from sin, and by his 
own virtue win happiness here and hereafter. 

The exact nature of Asoka's belief concerning 
a future life is not easily ascertained. Frequent 
reference is made to the life hereafter; heaven 
(svarga) is held out as an object of desire, and in one 
passage the approval of heaven is referred to. When 
the passages of the Buddhist scriptures mentioned in 
the Bhabra Edict as Asoka's favourite texts shall 
have been published and translated, it may be possible 


to determine with more accuracy the king's attitude 
towards the great problems of existence. At present 
only one of these passages, that entitled ' Fears of the 
Future,' is accessible in English. This passage 
enumerates the physical dangers to which recluses 
are exposed, such as disease, attacks of wild beasts, 
&c., and recommends the use of renewed and timely 
efforts to avert such perils. Ten moral dangers are 
then enumerated, of which the principal are corrup- 
tions in doctrine and discipline, an inclination to appre- 
ciate the literary beauty of the scriptures rather than 
their intrinsic worth, laziness, luxury, and a taste 
for promiscuous company. Against these perils the 
recluse is warned to be sedulously on his guard, and 
to see that they are averted in good time ^. Of course, 
like all Hindoos, he must have believed in the 
doctrine of rebirth, in some of its forms, and the 
heaven at which he aimed would have been to his 
mind but one stage in the long cycle of existences. 
The intense feeling for the sanctity of life, which 
is characteristic both of Asoka's Buddhism and of 
Jainism, is closely connected with the doctrine 
of rebirth, which binds together in one chain all 
living creatures, whether angels or demons, men or 

One of the most noticeable features in the teaching 

of Asoka is the enlightened religious toleration which 

is so frequently and emphatically recommended. 

While applauding and admiring with justice the 

' Journal ofPdU Text Society, 1896, p. 96. 


extraordinary breadth and liberality of Asoka's senti- 
ments, we should remember that in his days no really 
diverse religions existed in India. The creeds of 
Jesus, Muhammad, and Zoroaster were then unknown. 
The only organized religion was Hindooism, and that 
complex phenomenon is more accurately described as 
a social system than by the name either of religion 
or creed. The Hindoos then, as now, enjoyed the 
privilege of absolutely free thought, and were at 
liberty then, as now, to discuss, affirm, or deny the 
existence of God, or of the soul, and any other pro- 
position in metaphysics or psychology which can 
suggest itself to speculative minds. Hindooism has 
never produced an exclusive, dominant, orthodox 
sect, with a formula of faith to be professed or 
rejected under pain of damnation. A Hindoo has at 
all times been free to believe what he pleases, so long 
as he eats the correct food, marries the proper 
woman, and so forth. Buddhism and Jainism are 
both in their origin merely sects of Hindooism — or 
rather, schools of philosophy founded by Hindoo re- 
formers — which in course of time gathered an accretion 
of mythology round the original speculative nucleus. 

When Asoka speaks of the toleration of other 
men's creeds, he is not thinking of exclusive, aggressive, 
militant religions like Islam and Christianity, but of 
Hindoo sects, all connected by many bonds of common 
sentiment. The Buddhist Suttas, and the treatise of 
I-tsing on Religious Practices, endeavour to explain 
the differences between various schools, but these are 


so subtle, and often seemingly so trivial, that a 
Western mind does not readily grasp them. 

Asoka was, therefore, in a position which enabled 
him to realize the idea that all Indian sects funda- 
mentally agreed in essentials, all of them alike aiming 
at self-control and purity of life ; and he felt fully 
justified in doing honour in various ways to Jains 
and Brahmanical Hindoos, as well as to Buddhists. 
While lavishing his treasure chiefly on Buddhist 
shrines and monasteries, he did not hesitate to spend 
large sums in hewing out of hard granite spacious 
cave-dwellings for the Brahmanical Ajivika ascetics, 
and there can be no doubt, although proofs in the 
shape of monuments are not at present known, that 
the Jains too shared in his bounty. His censors 
were, as we have seen, equally concerned with Bud- 
dhists, Jains, and Brahmanists. Similar toleration 
was practised by later princes. Kharavela of Orissa, 
for instance, avows himself, in language almost iden- 
tical with that of Asoka, to be a person who did 
reverence to the creeds of all sects ^. But, notwith- 
standing, or perhaps in consequence of, his tolerant 
disposition, Asoka resented the claims of the Brahmans 
to be gods on earth, and took pride in the measures 
which he had adopted to humble the arrogance of the 
Brahmanical teachers ^. He has, therefore, been almost 

' For the Kharavela inscription, see Cunningham, Corpus, 
i. 27, PI. xvii, and Bhagvan Lai Indraji in Comptes-Bendus du 
H "" Congris Intern, d' Orientalistes, vol. iii, pp. 2, 149. 

^ I follow M. Senart's interpretation of the Rupnath Minor 
Rock Edict. 


ignored by Brahmanical literature, and is mentioned 
in only one inscription other than his own voluminous 
writings. Buddhist writers alone profess to give an 
account of his reign, in which so much was done for 
the diffusion and exaltation of the teaching of Gau- 
tama. Unfortunately, the Buddhist accounts of his 
reign are so overlaid with superstitious imbecilities, 
and distorted by sectarian and ecclesiastical bias, that 
they cannot be accepted as independent authorities, 
although useful as commentaries on, and supplements 
to, the authentic materials for his history. 

The true full personal name of the great emperor 
would appear to have been Asoka vardhana, as given 
in the Pur^oas. The inscription of RudradS,man in 
Gujarat, dated in A.D. 150, simply gives him the name 
of Asoka Maurya, and refers to Chandragupta Maurya 
as one of his predecessors. 

In the edicts he uses his name in religion, Priya- 
darsin (Pali, Piyadasi), which means ' the Humane,' 
and never makes use of his personal name ^ When 
the edicts were first discovered and good texts were 
not available, some scholars felt doubts as to the 
identity of Asoka and Priyadarsin, but such doubts 
are now obsolete, and the identity is absolutely 

The Dipavamsa, the most ancient of the Ceylonese 

' It seems to me clear from the testimony of the Rudrada- 
man inscription, and the tradition of Northern India, including 
Nepal and Kashmir, of the Chinese, and of Ceylon, that the 
emperor's personal name was Asoka, or, in its fuller form, 
Asoka vardhana. 


chronicles, dating probably from the fourth century 
A.D., uses the names Asoka and Piyadasi as convertible 
terms i. To enumerate the other proofs of the identity 
of Asoka and Priyadarsin in this place is superfluous 
and would be wearisome, but one item of the over- 
whelming evidence may be cited. The pillar at 
the Lumbini Garden (Rummindei), the traditional 
birthplace of the Buddha, the inscription on which 
has been already quoted, was, according to the Chinese 
pilgrim Hiuen Tsiang, erected by Asoka. The in- 
scription is, as in the case of the other monuments, 
recorded by Piyadasi Raja, who was, therefore, iden- 
tical with Asoka. 

Nothing definite is known as to the afiinities and 
social position of the Maurya clan or tribe to which 
Chandragupta belonged. Justin's statement that the 
founder of the Maurya dynasty was of humble origin 
is probably based on statements recorded by con- 
temporaries and may be accepted. The tribe or clan 
must therefore have ranked low in the social scale. 
Some Buddhist writers erroneously represent the 
Mauryas as a princely race ^- Certain forms of the 
legend describe Chandragupta and Asoka as descen- 
dants of the earlier Sisuniga and Nanda dynasties, 
and it is possible that the first Maurya king may 

' Oldenberg's edition of the Dtpavamsa, pp. 146-93 ; sections 
vi. I, 2, 12-15, 18, 23, 24 ; vii. 8, 14-16, 18 ; xv. 88 ; svi. 5. 

' Mahdvarhsa, ch. v. : ' Moriydnan KattiyAnan vamsejdtan sirt- 
dharan,' rendered by Tumour and Wijesimlia, ' a descendant of 
the dynasty of Moriyan sovereigns, endowed with illustrious 
and beneficent attributes, surnamed Chandagutta.' 


have been an illegitimate son of the last Nanda, 
whom he dethroned, but it is, perhaps, more probable 
that the dynasties of the Nandas and Mauryas were 
not connected by blood ^. 

The authentic history of Asoka closes with the 
twenty-eighth year of his reign, when he recorded 
the seventh Pillar Edict, recapitulating the measures 
taken by him for the propagation of the Law of Piety, 
the work to which he had devoted the greater part 
of his long reign. The small supplementary Pillar 
Edicts, it is true, seem to be somewhat later in date, 
but they are not of any historical importance. 

Asoka always reckons &is regnal years from the 
date of his coronation (abhisheka), and he was in the 
habit of celebrating the anniversary of his coronation 
by an amnesty to criminals. The Ceylonese tradition 
which places a considerable interval between the 
accession and the coronation of Asoka is therefore 
probably correct, and, in the absence of any evidence 
to the contrary, the tradition may be accepted that 
the coronation took place in the fourth year after 
Asoka's accession to supreme power. The inscriptions 
prove that the reign lasted at least twenty-eight years 

■ According to the prose AsoMvaddna (Bumouf, pp. 319 
seqq.), Bindusara was the son of Nanda. Cp. Hiuen Tsiang's 
story ahout the five StUpas at Pfttaliputra (Beal, ii. 94), and 
Rockhill, The Life of the Buddha, p. 186. It is possible, as 
suggested by Prof. Rhys Davids (Buddhism, p. 221), that the 
Nanda king may have been also known as Asoka, and that 
some of the contradictions in the Asoka legends may be due to 
this cause. 


after the coronation. The Ceylonese tradition that 
the total length of the reign from the accession was 
forty or forty-one years does not seem to be open to 
objection, and may be provisionally accepted. 

The inscriptions record the fact that Asoka had 
brothers and sisters, but whether or not he was the 
eldest son of Bindusara does not appear. He never 
makes the slightest allusion to his ancestry. He 
distinguishes two ranks among his sons — the queens' 
sons, or princes, and the king's sons, the latter evidently 
being his sons by ladies of inferior rank. His second 
queen {devi) had the name or title of Kiriivaki, and 
her son was named Tivara (Tivala), or, perhaps, 
Titivara. Princes of the royal family, probably the 
king's sons, were stationed as Viceroys or Governors 
at Taxila in the Panjab, Ujjain in Central India, 
Tosali in Kalinga, and Suvamagiri in the Peninsula. 
Beyond these few facts our authentic information 
concerning the family of Asoka does not go ^- 

Fa-hien, the Chinese pilgrim in A.D. 400, gives 
Dharmavivardhana as the name of the son of Asoka, 
who ruled over Gandhara, and must have been the 
Viceroy at Taxila. The reference seems to be to the 
person who is in other forms of the legend generally 
called Kunala, concerning the blinding of whom a 
pathetic romance is told, which will be found on 
a subsequent page. The historian of Kashmir men- 
tions a son of Asoka named Jalauka as being governor 

' Pillar Edict VII ; Queen'a Edict ; Detached (Kalinga) Rock 
Edicts ; Siddapura Minor Rock Edict. 


of that province, and a zealous devotee of the Brah- 
manical gods. 

The Vishnu Purana names Suyasas (al. Suparsva) 
as the son and successor of Asoka, and Dasaratha as 
the son and successor of Suyasas. The name of 
Dasaratha is genuine, being confirmed by the in- 
scriptions in the Nagarjuni caves near Gay§,, which 
record the bestowal of the caves upon the Ajivikas 
by Dasaratha immediately after his accession. The 
characters of these inscriptions are the same as in 
those of Asoka, and, considering the fact that the 
Buddhist traditions affirm that the son of Kunala 
immediately succeeded his grandfather, the probability 
is that Dasaratha was the immediate successor of 
Asoka, whose benefactions to the Ajivikas he continued^. 

The Ceylonese chronicles ascribe the conversion of 
Ceylon to the miraculous proceedings of Mahendra 
(Pali, Mahinda), and his sister Sanghamitra (Sangha- 
mitta), the illegitimate children of Asoka by a lady 
of Vedisagiri, the ruined city of Besnagar near Bhilsa 
in Central India. 

The story of the mission of Mahendra and his 
sister, although supported in the chronicles of Ceylon 
by an imposing array of dates, is a tissue of absurdi- 
ties, and has been rightly rejected as unhistorical by 
Professor Oldenberg. Most writers have been content 

^ For the Kunala legend, see Burnouf s and Eajendralala 
Mitra's accounts of the AsohAvaddna, and Hiuen Tsiang (Beal, 
i. 139-41). The Dasaratha inscriptions were edited by Biihler 
(Ind. 'Ant. xx. 361). For notice of Jalauka, see Ind. Ant. 
sviii. 68. 


to lop off the miracles, and to accept the residuum of 
the story as authentic history. Such a method of 
interpreting a legend does not seem to be consistent 
with sound principles of historical criticism. 

The name of Asoka's daughter Sanghamitra, which 
means 'friend of the Buddhist order,' is extremely 
suspicious, and the only safe course is to treat the 
whole tale as a monkish legend. It will be found in 
the sixth chapter of this volume. 

Asoka himself is silent concerning the alleged 
mission of his son and daughter. In the thirteenth 
Rock Edict he enumerates the foreign countries to 
.which he has dispatched his missionaries, and includes 
in the list the Chola and Pindya kingdoms in the 
extreme south of India, and Ceylon. In the second Rock 
Edict he mentions Ceylon as one of the foreign coun- 
tries in which he had disseminated remedies for man 
and beast. These are the only two passages in which 
he refers to Ceylon. If there were any truth in the 
story told by the monks of the island, Asoka would 
not have been slow to claim the merit of having 
devoted his son and daughter to religion, and of 
having converted the king of Ceylon. 

Professor Oldenberg has much justification for his 
opinion that the story of Mahinda and Sanghamitta 
seems to have been — 

' Invented for the purpose of possessing a history of the 
Buddhist institutions in the island, and to connect it with 
the most distinguished person conceivable — the great Asoka. 
The historical legend is fond of poetically exalting ordinary 



occurrences into great and brilliant actions; we may 
assume that, in reality, things were accomplished in a more 
gradual and less striking manner than such legends make 
them appear.' 

The naturalization in Ceylon of the immense mass 
of Buddhist literature must necessarily have been 
a work of time, and would seem to be the fruit of 
a period of long and continued intercourse between 
Ceylon and the adjacent parts of India ^. Hiuen 
Tsiang mentions one st4,pa in the Chela country, 
and another in the Dravida or Pandya kingdom, as 
ascribed to Asoka. Inasmuch as the edicts recognize 
the independence of the Chola and Pindya territories, 
these st4,pas, if really constructed by Asoka, can have 
been erected "only by the friendly co-operation of the 
local kings. Their existence confirms the statement of 
the edicts that missionary work was extended into 
the extreme south of the Peninsula, which was in con- 
stant communication with Ceylon \ 

Still more significant is Hiuen Tsiang's testimony 
concerning the ancient buildings in the kingdom of 
Malakftta, the country south of the Kaveri (Cauvery). 
He relates that in this kingdom — 

' Some follow the true doctrine, others are given to heresy. 
They do not esteem learning much, but are wholly given to 
commercial gain. There are the ruins of many old convents, 
but only the walls are preserved, and there are few religious 

^ Oldenberg, Introduction to the Vinayapitakam [Mahdvagga], 
p. 4 (ii). 
^ Hiuen Tsiang (Beal, ii. 227, 228). 


followers. There are many Inindred Deva temples, and a 
multitude of heretics, mostly belonging to the Nirgranthas. 

Not far to the east of this city [the capital] is an old 
sangMrdma [monastery] of which the vestibule and court 
are covered with wild shrubs; the foundation walls only 
survive. This was built by Mahendra, the younger brother 
of Asoka-raja. 

To the east of this is a stAjaa, the lofty walls of which 
are buried in the earth, and only the crowning part of the 
cupola remains. This was built by Asoka-raja '.' 

This interesting passage proves that, in the days of 
Asoka and for a considerable period afterwards, the 
country around Tanjore, the scene of busy commercial 
activity, was also a centre of Buddhist religious life. 
Mahendra, it will be observed, is described as being 
the younger brother of Asoka, not his son, as the 
Ceylonese monks state. F^-hien tells briefly, and with 
very little supernatural decoration, some anecdotes of 
this younger brother of Asoka, who found his delight 
in solitude and quiet ^. A much more developed 
form of the story is given by Hiuen Tsiang^, who. 
adds that the prince was the author of the conversion 
of Ceylon. ' The kingdom of Simhala,' writes the 
pilgrim, — 

' Formerly was addicted to immoral religious worship, 
but after the first hundred years following Buddha's death 
the younger brother of Asoka-raja, Mahendra by name, 
giving up worldly desires, sought with ardour the fruit of 

^ Hiuen Tsiang (Beal, ii. 231); Ind. Ant. xviii. 241. 

' FS,-hien, chapter xxvii. 

" Hiuen Tsiang (Beal, ii. 91-93). 


Arhatship. He gained possession of the six supernatural 
powers and the eight means of liberation; and having 
the power of instant locomotion, he came to this country. 
He spread the knowledge of the true law and widely 
diffused the bequeathed doctrine. Prom his time there has 
fallen on the people a belieTing heart, and they have 
constructed loo conyents, containing some 20,000 priests. 
They principally follow the teaching of Buddha, according to 
the dharma of the Sthavira school of the Mahayana sect *.' 

Comparison of the two forms of the legend of the 
miraculous conversion of Ceylon justifies the inference 
that a principal agent in the conversion of the island 
was Mahendra, a near relative of the emperor Asoka. 
The conversion was, of course, much more gradual than 
it is represented in either form of the legend to have 
been, and Mahendra cannot have been more than a 
pioneer in the work. The monuments in Ceylon con- 
nected by tradition with the name of Mahendra 
support the theory that a person bearing that name was 
really an apostle of Buddhism in the island, and it is 
certain that the teaching of Gautama had made con- 
siderable progress in Ceylon soon after the time of 
Asoka. The existence in the delta of the KS-veri of a 
ruined monastery ascribed to Mahendra, the younger 
brother of Asoka, is some evidence of the real existence 
of that personage and of his missionary efibrts in the 
south of India. The form of the legend which ascribes 
the conversion of Ceylon to the younger brother, 
rather than to the son and daughter, of Asoka has 
probably a basis of fact. 

' Hiuen Tsiang, ii. 246. 


The edicts prove conclusively that numerous mission- 
aries had been dispatched and had effected extensive 
conversions previous to the thirteenth year of Asoka's 
reign. Inasmuch as the emperor joined the Buddhists 
as a lay disciple for the first time in his ninth year, 
and did not display much zeal until two and a half years 
later, the first considerable dispatch of missionaries 
must have taken place when the emperor had been 
about eleven years crowned. Ceylon had, therefore, 
been visited by missionaries in the twelfth year of 
the reign, before the issue of the second and thirteenth 
Rock Edicts in the thirteenth year, and the Ceylonese 
annals are in error in dating the mission to the island 
eighteen years after the coronation of Asoka. 

The so-called Third Coundil of the Buddhist Church 
alleged to have been held at Pataliputra under the 
patronage of Asoka, eighteen years after his coronation, 
and two hundred and thirty-six years after the death 
of Buddha, is generally treated as an undoubted fact, 
and as one of the leading events of the reign of Asoka. 

But the strict historical criticism which rejects the 
story of Mahinda and Sanghamitta, along with the 
Ceylonese chronology anterior to B.C. i6o, justifies 
equal scepticism concerning the alleged Third Council. 

The monks of Ceylon relate that the Buddhist 
canon was first settled at a council held at Rijagriha, 
then the capital of the kingdom of Magadha, by the 
leading disciples of the Buddha, immediately after his 
decease. The Second Council is alleged to have been 
held at Vais^li about a century after the death of the 


Buddha, primarily to condemn the heretical opinions 
current at Vais&li, and, secondarily, to examine and 
confirm the canon of scripture. 

The third Council is said to have been held at 
PS,taliputra two hundred and thirty-six years after 
the death of the Buddha, the coronation of Asoka 
having taken place eighteen years earlier. This 
Council is alleged to have been summoned primarily 
for the suppression of a multitude of pestilent heretics 
who had caused an interruption of religious services 
for seven years, and the opportunity was again taken 
to revise and confirm the sacred canon. Tishya (Tissa) 
the son of Mudgalya (Moggali), the President of the 
Council, is alleged to have published the treatise known 
as the Kathavatthu at the same time. 

Although the tales of the Ceylonese monks have 

. too often been accepted as genuine history, scepticism 

about their value and incredulity concerning the 

alleged Councils are nothing new. Many years ago 

Max Miiller wrote : — 

' In our time, -when even the contemporaneous eTidence 
of Herodotus, Thucydides, Livy, or Jornandes is sifted by 
the most uncompromising scepticism, we must not expect 
a more merciful treatment for the annals of Buddhism. 
Scholars engaged in special researches are too willing to 
acquiesce in CTidence, particularly if that evidence has 
been discovered by their own efforts, and comes before 
them with all the charms of novelty. 

But, in the broad daylight of historical crjticism, the 
prestige of such a witness as Buddhaghosha soon dwindles 
away, and his statements as to kings and councils eight 

D a 


hundred years before his time are in truth worth no more 
than the stories told of Arthur by Geoffrey of Monmouth, 
or the accounts "we read in Livy of the early history of 
Rome '.' 

The wise scepticism of Max Miiller .concerning the 
tales of Buddhaghosha is equally applicable to the 
chronicles known as the Mahavamsa and Dipavamsa, 
of which the last named is the earlier in date, having 
been composed in the fourth century A. D. 

All the three Councils are alike unable to bear 
the search-light of criticism. Professor Oldenberg, for 
reasons which need not be here discussed, finds that 
the story of the First Council is 'not history, but 
pure invention, and, moreover, an invention of no 
very ancient date.' Out of the story of the Second 
Council he selects one part for acceptance and another 
for rejection, that is to say, he accepts as historical . 
the account of the condemnation of the ten heretical 
opinions, while he rejects the account of the revision 
of the canon ^. Although this finding cannot be 
regarded as wholly satisfactory, the learned Professor's 
arguments may be accepted in so far as they prove 
the unhistorical character of the tale concerning the 
revision of the canon at the alleged Council of 

The Third Council, which is said to have been held 
at Pataliputra under the patronage of Asoka Maurya, 

' Chips from a German Workshop, 2nd ed., vol. i, p. 199. 
^ Oldenberg, Introduction to the Vinayapitakarh, pp. xxvii 
to xxix. 


is accepted by the same critic as an undoubted his- 
torical fact. But if such a Council were really held, 
it is strange that no allusion to it occurs in the Edicts, 
and that it is ignored by all (or almost all) Indian and 
Chinese tradition. 

The history of the alleged Council of PS,taliputra 
practically rests on the authority of the Ceylonese 
chronicles, which is untrustworthy. The Ceylonese 
authority requires external support, and such support 
is not forthcoming. Tissa, the son of Moggali, who is 
supposed to have been the president of the Council, 
is wholly unknown to the traditions of China, Tibet, 
and Nepal, which substitute for him as the _ spiritual 
guide and confessor of Asoka, Upagupta, the son of 
Gupta, the perfumer. 

The legends which will be found in the sixth and 
seventh chapters of this volume are in some respects 
common to Upagupta and to Tissa son of Moggali. 
The legends add to the confusion by mixing the 
stories of the Second and Third Councils ; the saint 
Yasas, for instance, being mentioned as a prominent 
personage of both. The result is that, although the 
inscribed relic caskets of Sanchi demonstrate the exist- 
ence of an unnamed saint, the son of Moggali, who was 
approximately contemporary with Asoka, no reliance 
can be placed on the account of the proceedings of 
either the Second or the Third Council. The ela- 
borately falsified chronicles of Ceylon have certainly 
duplicated the real Asoka Maurya by the invention 
of KS,lasoka, and it is probable that they have effected 


a similar duplication of one real. Council. But, 
whether that Council was really held in the reign 
of Asoka Maurya at Pitaliputra, or in the reign of 
a predecessor, perhaps Chandragupta, at Vaisali, 
cannot at present be determined. 

Further evidence of the utterly unhistorical character 
of the narratives of all the three alleged Councils is to 
be found in the fact that the three narratives are all 
cast in one mould, and that the procedure for the 
verification of the canon at all the three assemblies 
is said to have been identical. The Chinese, moreover, 
tell of a council held by Kanishka, emperor of Northern 
India in jihe latter part of the first century a.t>., which 
is unknown to the Ceylonese. The truth probably is 
that the Buddhist canon, like the New Testament, 
grew by a process of gradual accretion and acceptance, 
with little, if any, help from formal councils in its 
earlier stages. The statement that certain commen- 
taries were authorized by a Council in the time of 
Kanishka may well be true, but the earlier councils 
are not entitled to a place among the events of 
authentic history. 

The stories about the alleged prevalence of heresy 
during the earlier part of Asoka's reign which caused 
a suspension of religious ordinances for seven years, 
and induced the retirement of Tissa the son of Moggali 
for that period, bear a suspicious resemblance to the 
tales, undoubtedly false, which ascribe the most 
horrible cruelties to the emperor prior to his con- 
version to Buddhism. The object of the ecclesiastical 


romancers was, apparently, to heighten the contrast 
between the period when the emperor was, according 
to their view, orthodox, and the period when he held 
other opinions. The Ceylonese versions of the Asoka 
legend seem to have received a special colouring with 
the object of enhancing the reputation of the school 
favoured by the monks of the MahSvihara monastery, 
where both the Dtpavamsa and the Mahavamsa were 

The list of the missionaries dispatched by Asoka 
to various countries as given in the twelfth chapter 
of the Mahavamsa is more deserving of credence than 
most of the particulars given in that work, being to 
a considerable extent corroborated by the evidence 
of inscriptions extracted by Cunningham and Maisey 
from the stApas at and near Sanchi. The chronicler, 
who ascribes the credit for the dispatch of the mission- 
aries to the monk Tissa the son of Moggali, instead 
of to the emperor, enumerates the missions as 
follows : — 

Majjhantika sent to Kashmir and GandhS,ra ; Mahi- 
deva sent to Mahisamandala (Mysore) ; Rakkhita sent 
to Vanavasi (North Kanara) ; Yona-Dhammarakkhita 
sent to Aparantaka (the coast north of Bombay) ; 
Majjhima (accompanied by Kassapa, Malikadeva, 
Dhundhabhinnossa, and Sahasadeva) sent to Hima- 
vanta (the Himalaya); Sona and tJttara sent to 
Sovanabhumi (Pegu) ; Mahadhammarakkhita sent to 
Maharatta (West Central India); Maharakkhita sent 
to the Yona (Yavana) regions, on the north-western 


frontier; Maha Mahinda (accompanied by Ittiya,TJttiya, 
Sambala, and Bhaddasala — all disciples of the son of 
Moggali) sent to Ceylon. 

The relics of Majjhima (Madhyama) and Kassapa 
(Kasyapa) were found enshrined together in one 
casket in No. 2 dlXpa at Sanchi, and also in another 
casket at No. 2 stiXpa of Sonari, Kassapa being 
described in the brief inscriptions on the lids as the 
apostle {dchdrya) of the Himavanta. StlXpa No. 2 at 
Sanchi also contained relics of the son of Moggali 
himself. The list of missionaries given in the Maha- 
vamsa would, therefore, seem to be authentic, subject 
to the probable correction that Mahinda (Mahendra) 
should be regarded as the brother, not as the son, of 
Asoka ^■ 

The traditional chronology of the reign is of no 
independent value. The appearance of precision in 
the dates given by the Ceylonese chroniclers is nothing 
but a deceptive appearance, and no valid reason exists 
for accepting either their statement that two hundred 
and eighteen years elapsed between the accession of 
Asoka and the death of the Buddha, or the statement 
that the death of the Buddha occurred in the year 
B.C. 543. The date of the death of Gautama Buddha 
must be determined on other grounds, if determined 
at all. The Chinese pilgrims and the Sanskrit legend 
books give another set of contradictory chronological 
data ; Taranath and the Jains supply yet other and 

* Mahdvamsa, ch. xii ; Cunningham, Bhilsa Topes, pp. 271 


equally contradictory statements. Nothing can be 
made of these so-called authorities, which are of use 
only as occasionally throwing a sidelight on authentic 
evidence ^. 

The Ceylonese dates for the accession and conversion 
of Asoka are admittedly inconsistent, as they stand, 
with the evidence of the Edicts, and it is contrary to 
all rules of sound criticism to select from a single 
authority one date for acceptance and another for 
rejection. This uncritical course has been adopted by 
too many writers on the subject, who pick and choose 
at will among the dates and figures of the Mahavamsa 
and Dipavamsa. In this work the Ceylonese chrono- 
logy prior to B.C. 160 is absolutely and completely 
rejected, as being not merely of doubtful authority, 
but positively false in its principal propositions. 

The earlier Asoka, dubbed Kalasoka by the Ceylonese 
chroniclers, to distinguish him from Dharmasoka, the 
great Maurya emperor, appears to be a fiction. The 
extreme confusion of the legends about Asoka and 
the existence of several contradictory traditional 
chronologies give some colour to the theory that a 
historical basis in the shape of two Asokas should 
be sought to explain the contradictions. But the 
supposed Asoka the First remains wrapped in a cloud 

^ T8,ran8,th's account has been translated by Miss E. Lyall 
from Vassiliefs work on Buddhism in Ind. Ant. iv. 361. It 
is hopelessly confused. Prof. Jacobi has edited the Jain 
Parisishtorparvoj^. For the Nepalese chronology see Ind. Ant. 
xiii. 412. The Chinese pilgrims' notices have been already 


from which he refuses to emerge, and cannot be 
verified as a fact ^. History knows only one Asoka, 
the son of Bindusara and grandson of Chandragupta, 
who ruled India for some forty years in the third 
century B.C. 

The real evidence of the date of the historical 
Asoka is furnished chiefly by two authorities, Justin 
and the Edicts. This evidence has not been, and 
cannot be, shaken by any amount of monkish fiction 
or contradictory legends. 

Although Asoka-Priyadarsin is himself silent as to 
his lineage, the concurrent testimony of Buddhists, 
Jains, and Hindoos, supported to some extent by the 
Rudradaman inscription, represents him as being 
the third sovereign of the Maurya dynasty, and the 
grandson of Chandragupta, the founder of the dynasty. 
This evidence may be accepted. Chandragupta was, 
bej^ond all question, the contemporary of Seleucus 

The statements of Justin fix the possible dates of the 
accession of Chandragupta within very narrow limits. 

In this work the year B.C. 3«i has been adopted as 
the date, because it is plain from the words of Justin 
that the revolt against the Macedonian governors 

' Mahdvamsa, ch. iv : ' Sisunaga. He reigned eighteen 
years. His son Kalasoka reigned twenty-eight years. Thus, 
in the tenth year of the reign of King Kalasoka, a century 
had elapsed from the death of Buddha.' Tumour erroneously 
gives twenty years as the length of the reign of Kalasoka. 
Wijesimha corrects the error. See my papers in J. R. A. S. for 
1 89 1, for fuller discussion. 


of the Panjab occurred at the earliest possible 
moment, that is to say, in the cold season following 
the death of Alexander at Babylon in the summer 
of B.C. 323. The empire of Alexander was held to- 
gether solely by his personality, and the moment 
that the personality of Alexander disappeared, the 
empire vanished. The revolt headed by Chandra- 
gupta must, therefore, have taken place in B.C. 323-22. 
The recovery of the Panjab and the usurpation of the 
throne of Magadha may be assumed to have taken place 
before the close of B.C. 321, which year may be reason- 
ably taken as that of the accession of Chandragupta. 

The duration of twenty-four years assigned to his 
reign is supported by the authority of the Puranas, 
the Dipavamsa, and the Mahavamsa. This concur- 
rence of Brahmanical and Buddhist literary tradition 
may be regarded as sufficient proof of the fact alleged. 
The reign of twenty-five years assigned by the 
Puranas to Bindusara fits into the chronological 
framework better than the period of twenty-eight 
years assigned by the Mahavamsa, and has therefore 
been adopted. 

The aggregate period of forty-nine years thus 
allotted to the two reigns of Chandragupta and his 
son agrees well with the evidence derived from syn- 
chronisms by which the chronology of both Asoka and 
Chandragupta is satisfactorily determined with a very 
narrow margin of possible error. 

We have already seen that the date of the accession 
of Chandragupta may be fixed in the year B.C. 321, 


because his accession cannot have been very long 
deferred after the death of Alexander the Great in 
B.C. 333. This conclusion is supported by the state- 
ment of Justin that Chandraguptawas already reigning 
while Seleucus was laying the foundations of his future 
greatness. Assuming B.C. 331 as the date of the 
accession of Chandragupta, his grandson Asoka should 
have ascended the throne forty-nine years later, in 

B.C. 272. 

The thirteenth Rock Edict establishes the syn- 
chronism of Asoka with five Hellenistic kings: — 
Antiochus (II) Theos, of Syria ; Ptolemy (II) Phila- 
delphus, of Egypt; Antigonus (II) Gonatas, of 
Macedonia ; Alexander, king of Epirus ; and Magas, 
king of Cyrene. 

The latest date at which all these kings were alive 
together is B.C. 258. The Rock Edicts belong to the 
thirteenth and fourteenth years of the reign of Asoka 
reckoned from his coronation, which event, therefore, 
should have taken place about B.C. 270. The year 
B.C. 269 is probably nearly correct, and, accepting the 
tradition that the accession of Asoka preceded his 
coronation by three complete years, his accession may 
be placed in B.C. 272, the year obtained by the 
absolutely independent calculation starting from the 
accession of Chandragupta. 

The synchronism of Chandragupta with Seleucus 
Nikator and his opponent Antigonus I killed at Ipsus 
in 301 B.C. harmonizes accurately with the synchronism 
of Asoka, the grandson of Chandragupta, with Antio- 



chus Theos, the grandson of Seleucus Nikator, and 
with Antigonus Gonatas, the grandson of Antigonus I. 
The traditional period of forty-nine years for the 
reigns of Chandragupta and BindussLra fits accurately 
in between the two sets of synchronisms. 

The chronology of Asoka's reign is consequently 
firmly established on the foundations laid long ago by 
Sir William Jones and James Prinsep, and is known 
with accuracy sufficient for all practical purposes. 
The margin for error cannot exceed two years. 

The following chronological table has been con- 
structed in accordance with the argument above stated 
in brief. 



year of 





Indian campaigns of Alexander 

the Great. 
Chandragupta in his youth met 

Arrian, &c. 






Satrap Philip murdered by 
mutinous mercenaries, and 
the Indian provinces tem- 
porarily placed in charge of 
Eudemus and King Taxiles 

Death of Alexander at Babylon, 




in May or June. 


Revolt of Indian province 
under leadership of Chand- 




Accession of Chandragupta 

as emperor of India. 


Babylon assigned to Seleucus 
Nikator in second division of 
Alexander's empire at Tripa- 




year of 













circa 305 









circa 296 










278 or 


Defeat of the Eomans by the 
Samnites at the Caudine 

Death of Eumenes, formerly 
secretary to Alexander. 

Seleueus compelled by Anti- 
gonus to retire to Egypt. 

Recovery of Babylon by Se- 

Establishment of Seleucidan 
era (ist October). 

Extension by Seleueus of his 
power eastward and into 
India, where he is checked 
by Chandragupta. 

Seleueus assumes title of King 
of Syria. 

Cession by Seleueus to Chand- 
ragupta of the Indian pro- 
vince with a large part of 

Mission of Megasthenes. 

Coalition of Seleueus, Ptolemy, 
and Lysimachus against An- 

Defeat and death of Antigonus 
at the battle of Ipsus. 

Accession of Bindusara Aml- 
tragh&ta as emperor of 

Mission of Deimachus sent by 

Final subjugation of the Sam- 
nites by the Romans. 

Accession of Ptolemy PhUadel- 
phus, king of Egypt. 

Death of Seleueus Nikator, 
king of Syria. 

Accession of Antiochus Soter, 
his son. 

Accession of Antigonus Gonatas, 
king of Macedonia, grandson 
of Antigonus I. 


Strabo, &c. 















Pyrrhus expelled from Italy by 

the Bomans. 
Accession of Alexander, king of 

Epirus, son of Pyrrhus, and' 

opponent of Antigonus 

Accession of Asoka-Friyad- 

arsin Maurya, grandson of 

Coronation {ahhishehd) of 


Outbreak of First Punic War. 

Conquest of Kalinga by Asoka. 
Asoka becomes a Buddhist lay 

Accession of Antiochus Theos, 

king of Syria. 

Asoka entered the Buddhist 
Order, abolished hunting, 
instituted tours devoted to 
works of piety, and dis- 
patched missionaries. 

Death of Magas, king of Gyrene, 
half-brother of Ptolemy 

(?) Death of Alexander, king of 

Asoka composed Rock Edicts 
III and IV. 

Dedicated Caves Nos. i and 2 at 
Bar§,bar to the use of the 
Brahmanical Ajivikas. 

Instituted quinquennial as- 
semblies for the propagation 
of the Buddhist Law of Piety 

Rock B. XIII. 
Ih. & Minor 
Rock E. I. 

Rock E. VIII, 
Minor Bock 
E. I, read 

Rock E. Ill, 

Cave Inscr. 

Rock E. III. 




year of 



25 s 






1 8th 










247 or 246 


circa 246 






Asoka published the complete 
series of the Fourteen Rook 
Edicts, and the Kalinga 
Borderers' Edict (No. II 

Asoka appointed Censors of the 
Law of Piety. 

Asoka enlarged for the second 
time the stitpa of Kon§,ka- 
mana Buddha near Kapila- 

(?) Asoka published the Ka- 
linga Provincials' Edict (No. I 

Asoka published the Minor 
Rock Edicts, and (?) the 
Bhabra Edict. 

Asoka dedicated No. 3 Cave at 
Bar&bar to the use of the 
Brahmanical Ajivikas. 

Asoka made a pilgrimage to the 
Buddhist holy places, and 
erected commemorative pillars 
at the Lumbini Garden and 
the stiipa of Konakamana. 

Death of Ptolemy Philadelphus, 

king of Egypt. 
Death of Antiochus II (Theos), 

king of Syria, and grandson 

of Seleucus Nikator. 
Revolt of Diodotus (Theodotos), 

and separation of Bactrian 

kingdom from Syria. (Other 

authorities give B. c. 250 as 

the date.) 

Asoka composed Pillar Edict VI. 
Publication by Asoka of the 
Seven Pillar Edicts. 


Rock E. V, 
and the Bor- 
of same date. 

Nigliva Pil- 
lar Inscr. 

Minor Rock 

3 Cave Inscr. 

Nigliva and 
Pillar Inscr. 


Pillar E. VI. 
Pillar E. 






year of 





Death of Antigonus Gonatas, 
king of Macedonia (some 
authorities give 239 as the 



Close of First Punic War. 
Rise of the kingdom of Per- 



(?) Asoka published the Sup- 
plementary Pillar Edicts. 

















Death of Asoka 




Accession of Dasaratha 



Dedication of the Nagarjuni 



Cave Inscr. 

circa 188 


Extinction of the Iffaurya 

Vayu Pu- 


Extent and Administration of the Empire 

The limits of the vast empire governed successfully 
by Asoka for so many years can be fixed with suffi- 
cient accuracy by means of the statements of the 
Greek and Latin authors, the internal evidence of the 
edicts, and the distribution of the monuments, sup- 
plemented by tradition 1. 

The Indian conquests of Alexander extended to 
the river Hyphasis, the modern Bias, in the eastern 
Panjab. These were all ceded by Seleucus Nikator 
to Chandragupta, and Strabo informs us that the 
cession included a large part of Ariline. This state- 
ment may reasonably be interpreted as implying that 
the limits of the Indian Empire were determined by 
the natural frontier of the mountain range known 
by the names of Paropanisus, Indian Caucasus, or 
Hindoo Koosh, and included the provinces of Arachosia 
(Western Afghanistan) and Gedrosia (Mekran). The 
cities of Kabul, Ghazni, Kandahar, and Herat, now 

' The testimony of the Greek and Latin authors is collected 
textually in Mr. M^Crindle's excellent books, Ancient India as 
described by Megasthenes and Arrian (Triibner, 1877) ; and The 
Invasion of India by Alexander the Great, as described by Arrian, 
Q. Curtius, Diodorus, Plutarch, and Justin (Constable, 1896). 


under the rule of the Amir of Afghanistan, were, 
therefore, all comprised within the territories inherited 
by Asoka from his grandfather. 

In the time of Alexander the kingdom of Magadha, 
the modern BihEir, the capital of which was first 
RSjagriha (RSjgir in the Gay^ District), and subse- 
quently P^taliputra (Patna and Bankipore), was the 
premier kingdom of India, and the last Nanda (vari- 
ously called Nandrus, Agrammes, and Xandrames) 
was sovereign both of the Prasii of Bihar and of 
the Gangaridae of Bengal. Chandragupta, after his 
successful campaign in the Panjab, and his usurpation 
of the Nanda's throne, made himself master of India, 
except the extreme south. The Rudrad§,man inscrip- 
tion indicates that his rule included the Kathiawar 
peninsula on the western coast. 

This enormous empire passed, apparently, in peaceful 
succession to Bindusara Amitraghata, and from him 
to Asoka. The traditions of Kashmir and Nepal 
relate that those countries were included in the 
Maurya empire. Asoka is remembered as the founder 
of Srinagar, which is still the capital of Kashmir, 
and which replaced the old capital on the site of 
Pandrethan. Several ruined buildings are also at- 
tributed to the great emperor by the local historian, 
who mentions a son of his named Jalauka, as governor 
of the province ^- The fact of the inclusion of Kash- 
mir in the Maurya empire is confirmed by a wild 

' Stein, ' Ancient Geography of Katoi'r,' in J. As. Soc. Bengal, 
Part i (1899), pp. 138-40, 158. 

E 2, 


legend related by Hiuen Tsiang, -which concludes 
with the statement that 'Asoka RSja, for the sake 
of the Arhats, built five hundred monasteries, and 
gave this country [Kashmir] as a gift to the priest- 
hood i.' 

The inclusion of the Nepalese Tarai, or lowlands, 
in the empire is conclusively proved by the inscrip- 
tions on the pillars at Nigliva and Rummindei. 

Genuine tradition, not mere literary legend, which 
is confirmed by the existence of well-preserved monu- 
ments, attests with almost equal certainty Asoka's 
effective possession of the secluded Valley of NepeLl. 
The pilgrimage described in the last chapter was 
continued, either through the ChiiriS, Ghati or the 
Goramasan Pass, into the enclosed valley of Nepal, 
of which the capital was then known by the name 
of Manju Patau. It occupied the same site as the 
modem city of Kathmandu. Asoka resolved to per- 
petuate the memory of his visit and to testify to 
his piety and munificence by the erection of a number 
of stately monuments, and the foundation of a new 
city. Patau, Bhatgaon, and Kirtipur, which at various 
dates in later ages severally became the capitals of 
mountain kingdoms, were not then in existence. 
Asoka selected as the site of his new city some 
rising ground about two miles to the south-east of 
the ancient capital, and there bmlt the city now 
known as Lalita Patan. Exactly in its centre he 
built a temple, which is still standing near the south 
' Beal, Buddhist Records of the Western World, i. 150. 


side of the palace or ' Darbar,' and at each of the four 
sides of the city, facing the cardinal points, he erected 
four great hemispherical st'Apas, which likewise remain 
to this day. Two small shrines and a tomb at Lalita 
Patau are also ascribed to Asoka. The emperor was 
accompanied in his pilgrimage by his daughter Charu- 
mati, the wife of a Kshatriya named Devapala. She 
devoted herself to religion, and remained in Nepal 
as a nun, residing at a convent which she built at 
Pasupatinath, a mile or two north of Kathmandu, 
and which still exists, and bears her name ^. 

The Buddhist legends all seem to imply that the sea- 
port of Tamralipti (the modem Tamliik in the Midna- 
pur District, thirty-five miles from Calcutta), where 
travellers from Ceylon landed, was part of the Maurya 
dominions, and this inference is supported by the fact 
that Chandragupta took over from his predecessor 
Nanda the sovereignty of the country of the Ganga- 
ridae, or Bengal, which probably included Tamralipti. 

Asoka, therefore, inherited an empire which ex- 
tended from sea to sea. But at his accession, the 
kingdom of Kalinga, stretching along the coast of 
the Bay of Bengal, from the Mahanadi river on the 
north, to the south as far, perhaps, as Pulicat, was 
still independent. In the ninth year of the reign this 
region was conquered and permanently annexed ^ 

' Bhagrwan L§,1 Indraji and Bflhler, ' History of Nepfi,!,' in Ind. 
Ant, Dec. 1884, xiii. 412 segg.; and Oldfield, Sketches from 
Nipal, ii. 246-8. 

» Kock Edict XIII. 


The southern limits of the empire are fixed by the 
occurrence of the Siddapura inscriptions in the Mysore 
State (about N. lat. 14° 50'), and by the enumeration 
in the edicts of the nations in the south of the 
peninsula which retained their independence. 

The Chola kings in those days had their capital at 
Uraiyur near Trichinopoly, and ruled over the south- 
east of the peninsula. The capital of the Pandya 
kingdom, farther south, was at Madura; and the 
Malabar coast, between the Western Ghats and the 
sea, down to Cape Comorin, was known as the king- 
dom of Kerala ^. All these three kingdoms are, like 
Ceylon, recognized by Asoka as independent powers, 
outside the limits of his dominions. 

The southern boundary of the Maurya empire 
may be defined, with a near approach to accuracy, 
as a line connecting Pondicherry on the east coast 
with Cannanore on the west, or, approximately, as 
the twelfth degree of north latitude. North of this 
line, as far as the Himalayas and the Hindoo Koosh, 
all India acknowledged either the direct rule or the 
overlordship of Asoka. 

This definition of the extent of the Maurya empire, 
which exceeded the area of British India, excluding 
Burma, is supported by the distribution of the rock 
inscriptions and by Hiuen Tsiang's enumeration of 
the monuments ascribed to Asoka. 

The rock inscriptions cover the area bounded by 

^ Sewell, 'Sketch of the Dynasties of Southern India,' in 
Archaeol. Survey of S. India, ii. 154, 195, and 214. 


the lower Himalayas, the Bay of Bengal, Mysore, and 
the Arabian sea. 

Hiuen Tsiang enumerates in detail about one hun- 
dred and thirty sttXpas ascribed to Asoka, besides 
mentioning in general terms many other edifices 
referred by tradition to his reign. A few of the 
stupas stood in independent territory, where their 
erection must have been dependent on the goodwill 
and permission of the local sovereigns, but the great 
majority were situated in provinces which belonged 
to the empire. Three are mentioned as existing in 
the country now known as Afghanistan. The Pilusara 
stilpa, a hundred feet high, was at Kapisa, and a won- 
derful stone stlXpa, beautifully adorned and carved, 
three hundred feet in height, was the glory of Naga- 
rahara near Jalalabad. A small st4pa, also the gift 
of Asoka, stood to the south of this stupendous 
monument. Other notable stUpas existed in the 
Swat valley, and Taxila possessed three. Four sHpas 
built by Asoka graced the capital of Kashmir, and 
legend ascribed to him the erection of five hundred 
monasteries in that country. 

On the east coast, sHpas built by Asoka are 
recorded as existing at Tamralipti (Tamhik), at the 
capital of Samatata (probably in the Sunderbimds), 
in Orissa, and in Kalinga. 

On the west side of India Valabhi in Gfljarat, and 
the province of Sind, with its dependencies, were rich 
in monuments ascribed to the great Maurya. The 
Rudradaman inscription records the fact that his 


Persian governor of Kathiawar made the canals in 
connexion with the Gimar lake which had been 
formed in the time of Chandragupta ^, In the pro- 
vince of Arachosia (Tsauktita), of which the capital 
is plausibly identified with Ghazni, ten stiipas were 
regarded as the work of Asoka, 

In the south he erected a sMpa at the capital of 
the Dravida country, the modem Conjeeveram, and 
another at the capital of the Andhra territory, the 
modern Vengi, forty-three miles south-west of Madras. 

The edicts refer to Antiochus Theos, king of Syria, 
as a neighbouring potentate, and so agree with the 
other evidence which indicates the Hindoo Koosh as 
the north-western frontier of the empire. 

Asoka's empire, therefore, comprised all India proper 
from the twelfth degree of latitude to the Himalayas, 
and included the valley of Nepal, the valley of Kash- 
mir, the Swat valley and adjoining regions, the 
Yusufzai country, Afghanistan as far as the Hindoo 
Koosh, Sind, and Baluchistan. 

The machinery for the government and administra- 
tion of this vast empire will now be examined. 

The historian is justified in assuming that the system 
of government developed by the genius of Chandra- 
gupta, the first emperor of India, was preserved intact 
in its main features, although supplemented by some 
novel institutions, and modified by certain reforms, in 
the reign of his grandson. 

^ Ind. Ant. vii. 257-63 ; and (inaccurately) in Prdkrit and 
Sanskrit Inscriptions ofKattywar (Bhavnagar, n. d.). 


Megasthenes has recorded a tolerably fuU account 
of the institutions of Chandragupta,^ and a combin- 
ation of his account with the evidence of the edicts 
throws much light upon the organization of Asoka's 

The king's power was, of course, absolute, and all 
institutions depended on his will. The royal will 
was communicated to the lieges through the agency of 
a bureaucracy, at the head of which stood the Viceroys, 
generally sons or other near relatives of the sovereign. 

One of these great officers had his seat of govern- 
ment at the famous city of Taxila, now represented by 
the ruins at ShS,h Dheri in the Rawalpindi District of 
the Panjib. All the territories west of the Satlej as 
far as the Hindoo Koosh may have been within his 
jurisdiction. Another princely Viceroy ruled Western 
India from the ancient city of Ujjain in M^hwa. 
According to tradition, Asoka himself held this 
government when the news of his father's mortal 
illness reached him, and obliged him to hasten to 
the capital in order to secure the succession. 

A third Viceroy, stationed at Suvamagiri, the site 
of which has not yet been identified, repre- 
sented the emperor in Peninsular India, The con- 
quered province of Kalinga was controlled by a fourth 
prince stationed at Tosali, of which the site is not known 
with certainty ; it may be represented by Jaugada ^ 

' The epigraphical authority for the four princely Viceroys 
is to be found in the Detached Edicts of Dhauli, so-called Nob, I 
and II ; and the Siddapura Minor Bock Edict. 


The home provinces were probably administered 
by local governors acting under the direct orders of 
the emperor. 

The oiEcials next in rank to the Viceroys, so far as 
can be inferred from the language of the edicts, were 
the RajjlXkas or Commissioners, ' set over hundreds 
of thousands of souls.' Below them were the Pra- 
desikas or District officers. 

Magistrates in general were designated by the term 
Mahdmdtra, and this generic term, in combination 
with determinative words, was also applied to special 
departmental officers, as, for instance, the Censors of 
the Law of Piety, who were known as Dhamma- 
mahdmdtras. These Censors, who were for the first 
time appointed by Asoka in the fourteenth year of the 
reign, as recited in the fifth Kock Edict, had instruc- 
tions to concern themselves with aU sects, and to pro- 
mote the advance of the principles of the Law of 
Piety among both the subjects of His Majesty and the 
semi-independent border tribes of Yonas, Gandharas, 
and others. They were directed in general terms to 
care for the happiness of the lieges, and especially 
to redress cafees of wrongful confinement or unjust 
corporal punishment, and were empowered to grant 
remissions of sentence in cases where the criminal was 
entitled to consideration by reason of advanced years, 
sudden calamity, or the burden of a large family. 
These officials were further charged with the delicate 
duty of superintending the female establishments of 
the members of the royal family both at the capital 


and in the provincial towns. In conjunction with 
other officials the Censors acted as royal almoners and 
distributed the gifts made by the sovereign and his 
queens and relatives. 

Special superintendents or Censors of the Women 
are also mentioned, and it is not easy to understand 
how their duties were distinguished from those of the 
Censors of the Law of Piety. 

All these special officers were supplementary to the 
regular magistracy. The extreme vagueness in the 
definition of the duties entrusted to them must have 
caused a considerable amount of friction between them 
and the ordinary officials. 

The Censors probably exercised jurisdiction in cases 
where animals had been killed or mutilated contrary 
to regulations, or gross disrespect had been shown by 
a son to his father or mother, and so forth. They also 
took cognizance of irregularities in the conduct of the 
royal ladies. The general duty of repressing unlawful 
indulgences of the fair sex seems to have fallen to the 
Censors of Women, who, no doubt, were also respon- 
sible for the due regulation of the courtesans. 
Megasthenes testifies that the official reporters did 
not scorn to make use of information supplied by the 
public women. 

Asoka mentions that he had appointed many classes 
of officials for various departmental purposes. Allu- 
sion is made to certain inspectors whose duties are not 
clearly explained. The wardens of the marches are 
mentioned as being a special class of officials. 


The emperor attached the highest importance to the 
necessity of being accessible to the aggrieved subject 
at any place and at any hour, and undertook to dis- 
pose at once of all complaints and reports without 
regard to his personal convenience. In these orders 
(Rock Edict VI), Asoka only confirmed and emphasized 
the practice of his grandfather, who used to remain 
in court the whole day, without allowing the interrup- 
tion of business, even while his attendants practised 
massage on him with ebony rollers. He continued 
to hear cases while the four attendants rubbed him \ 

The Indian emperor, like most Oriental sovereigns, 
relied much upon the reports of news-writers employed 
by the Crown for the purpose of watching the 
executive officers of Government, and reporting every- 
thing of note which came to their knowledge. The 
emperor seems to have had reason to be suspicious, for 
it is recorded that Chandragupta could not venture to 
sleep in the daytime, and at night was obliged to change 
his bedroom from time to time as a precaution against 
treachery ^. Asoka probably continued the routine of 
court life laid down by his great ancestor. 

The standing army, maintained at the king's cost, 
was formidable in numbers, comprising, according 
to Pliny, 600,000 infantry, 30,000 cavalry, and 9,000 
elephants, besides chariots ; and was, with reference to 
the standard of antiquity, very highly organized. 

The War Office was directed by a commission of 

' Strabo, XV. I, 53-6, in M'Crindle'e Ancient India, p. 72. 
» Ibid., p. 71. 


thirty members, divided into six boards each contain- 
ing five members, with departments severally assigned 
as follows : 

Board No. i : Admiralty, in co-operation with the 
Admiral ; 

Board No. a : Transport, commissariat, and army 
service, including the provision of drummers, grooms, 
mechanics, and grass-cutters ; 

Board No. 3 : Infantry ; 

Board No. 4 : Cavalry ; 

Board No. 5 : War-chariots ; 

Board No. 6 : Elephants. 

The arms, when not in use, were stored in arsenals, 
and ranges of stables were provided for the horses and 
elephants. Chariots, when on the march, were drawn 
by oxen, in order to spare the horses. Each war- 
chariot, which had a team of either two or four horses 
harnessed abreast, carried two fighting-men besides the 
driver. The chariot used as a state conveyance was 
drawn by four horses. Each war-elephant carried three 
fighting-men in addition to the driver. Arrian gives 
some interesting details concerning the equipment of the 
infantry and cavalry, which maybe quoted verbatim : — 

' I proceed now,' he says, ' to describe the mode in which 
the Indians equip themselTes for war, premising that it is 
not to be regarded as the only one in vogue. The foot- 
soldiers carry a bow made of equal length with the man 
who bears it. This they rest upon the ground, and pressing 
against it with their left foot thus discharge the arrow, 
having drawn the string far backwards ; for the shaft they 


use is little short of being three yards long, and there is 
nothing which can resist an Indian archer's shot — neither 
shield nor breastplate, nor any stronger defence if such 
there be. In their left hand they carry bucklers of undressed 
ox-hide, -which are not so broad as those who carry them, 
but are about as long. Some are equipped with jaTclinS 
instead of bows, but all wear a sword, which is broad in 
the blade, but not longer than three cubits ; and this, when 
they engage in close fight (which they do with reluctance), 
they wield with both hands, to fetch down a lustier blow. 
The horsemen are equipped with two lances like the lances 
called saunia, and with a shorter buckler than that carried 
by the foot-soldiers. But they do not put saddles on their 
horses, nor do they curb them with bits like the bits in use 
among the Greeks or the Kelts, but they fit on round the 
extremity of the horse's mouth a circular piece of stitched 
raw ox-hide studded with pricks of iron or brass pointing 
inwards, but not Yery sharp ; if a man is rich he uses pricks 
made of ivory. Within the horse's mouth is put an iron 
prong like a skewer, to which the reins are attached. 
When the rider, then, pulls the reins, the prong controls the 
horse, and the pricks which are attached to this prong goad 
the mouth, so that it cannot but obey the reins ^.' 

The civil administration, of which some features 
mentioned in the edicts have been already noticed, 
was an organization of considerable complexity, and 

' ' Indika,' xvi, in Ancient India, p. 220. For shapes of Indian 
arms at the beginning of the Christian era, see Cunning- 
ham, Bhilsa Topes, p. 217, and PI. xxxiii; and Maisey, Sdnchi, 
PI. XXXV, xxxvi. Cf. woodcut of Veddah drawing his bow in 
Tennant's Ceylon, 3rd ed., i. 499. A nearly life-size figure 
of an infantry soldier armed as described by Megasthenes is 
given in Cunningham, StApa of Bkarhut, PI. xxxii, i. 


apparently not inferior to that elaborated by Sher 
Shah and Akbar. We read of an Irrigation Depart- 
ment, which performed functions similar to those of 
the analogous department in Egypt, regulating the 
rivers and controlling the sluices so as to distribute 
the canal water fairly among the farmers. The long 
inscription of Rudradaman, executed in A. D. 150, 
records how Tushasp, the Persian governor of Saurash- 
tra (Kathiawar) on behalf of Asoka, constructed 
canals and bridges to utilize the water of the great 
artificial lake at Girnar which had been formed in 
the reign of Chandragupta ^. This instance shows 
the care that was taken to promote agricultural 
improvement and to develop the land revenue, even 
in a remote province distant more than a thousand 
miles from the capital. 

The revenue officers were charged with the collection 
of the land revenue, or Crown rent, then as now, the 
mainstay of Indian finance. All agricultural land 
was regarded as Crown property. According to one 
account the cultivators retained one-fourth of the 
produce; according to another (which iS more pro- 
bable), they paid into the treasury one-fourth of the 
produce in addition to a rent of unspecified amount. 

The castes, whose occupation connected them with 
the land, such as woodcutters, carpenters, blacksmiths, 
and miners, were subject to the supervision of the 
revenue officers. 

Roads were maintained by the royal officers, and 
^ See note, p. 72. 


pillars were erected on the principal highways to 
serve as mile-stones at intervals of about an English 
mile and a quarter. Examples of similar pillars 
{kos trbindr), erected many centuries later by the 
Mughal emperors, still exist ^. Asoka prided himself 
on having further consulted the comfort of travellers 
by planting shady trees and digging wells at frequent 
intervals along the main roads ". 

Pataliputra, the capital city, stood at the confluence 
of the Son and Ganges, on the southern bank of the 
latter river, in the position now occupied by the large 
native city of Patna and the civil station of Bankipore. 
The river Son has changed its course, and now joins 
the Ganges near the cantonment of Dinapore (Dhana- 
pur) above Bankipore, but its old course can be easily 
traced. The ancient city, like its modern successor, 
was a long and narrow parallelogram, about nine 
miles in length and a mile and a half in breadth. 
The wooden walls seen by Megasthenes, which were 

' The officers ' construct roads, and at every ten stadia set up 
a pillar to show the byroads and distances ' (Strabo, xv. i. 
50-2, in Anciwt India, p. 86). The stadium in use at that 
period was equal to 202 J yards; ten stadia, therefore, =2022^ 
yards. The Mughal hos, the interval between the still existing 
Icos mtndrs, or pillars, averages 4558 yards (Elliot, Suppl. 
Glossary, s. v. kos). The Asoka pillars were therefore set up at 
every half kos, approximately, according to the Mughal con- 

* Rock Edict II, and Pillar Edict VII. It is expressly recorded 
that the wells were dug at intervals of half a kos each, the 
same interval which is approximately expressed by Megasthenes 
as ten stadia. 


protected by a wide and deep moat, were pierced by 
sixty-four gates and crowned by five hundred and 
seventy towers. Asoka built an outer masonry wall, 
and beautified the city with innumerable stone build- 
ings so richly decorated, that in after ages they were 
ascribed to the genii. The greater part of the ancient 
city still lies buried in the silt of the rivers under 
Patna and Bankipore at a depth of from ten to twenty 
feet. In several places the remains of the wooden 
palisade mentioned by Megasthenes have been ex- 
posed by casual excavations, and numerous traces 
have been found of massive brick and magnificent 
stone buildings. A few of the brick edifices in a 
ruined condition are still above ground, and it would 
probably be possible, by a careful survey conducted 
under competent supervision, to identify with cer- 
tainty the sites of the principal Asoka buildings 
mentioned by the Chinese pilgrims. Owing to the 
want of such a survey, the identifications made by 
Major Waddell, I.M.S., who is entitled to the credit 
of discovering the fact that Psitaliputra still exists, 
are not altogether convincing, although many of them 
may be correct. 

The excavations, as far as they have been carried, 
fully confirm the accuracy of the accounts given by 
Megasthenes and the Chinese pilgrims of the extent 
and magnificence of the Maurya capital ^. 

^ Arrian, Indika, x, in Ancient India, pp. 68 and 205 ; 
Pliny, Hist. Nat.\i. 22, ibid. p. 139; Solinus, 52, 6-17, ibid, p, 
155; Waddell, Discovery of the Exact Site ofAsoha's Classic Capital 



The administration of this great and splendid city 
was organized with much elaboration. Like the War 
Office, the metropolis was administered by a commis- 
sion of thirty members divided into six Boards with 
five members each. The first Board was charged with 
the superintendence of the industrial arts and artisans. 
The second was entrusted with the duty of super- 
intending foreigners, and attending to their wants. 
This Board provided medical aid for foreigners in 
case of sickness, with decent burial in case of death, 
and administered the estates of the deceased, remitting 
the net proceeds to the persons entitled. The same 
Board was also bound to provide proper escort for 
foreigners leaving the country. The third Board was 
responsible for the registration of births and deaths, 
which was enforced both for revenue purposes and 
for the information of the Government. 

The fourth Board was the Board of Trade, which 
exercised a general superintendence over trade and 
commerce, and regulated weights and measures. It 
is said that the authorities took care that commodities 
were sold in the proper season by public notice, 
which probably means that price lists were officially 
fixed, according to the usual Indian custom. Any 
trader who desired to deal in more than one class 
of goods was obliged to pay double licence tax. 

The fifth Board was concerned with manufactures, 

of PAtaliputra, the PaUbothra of the Greeks, and Description of the 
Superficial Remains (Calcutta, Bengal Secretariat Press, 1892, 
price one rupee). 


the sale of which was subjected to regulations similar 
to those governing the sales of imported goods. 

The sixth Board was charged with the duty of 
levying a tithe on the prices of all articles sold. 
Evasion of this tax was punishable by death ^ This 
sanguinary law is but one of several indications that 
the penal code of Chandragupta was one of extreme 
severity. The same code seems to have been adminis- 
tered by Asoka, with slight mitigations. 

The general severity of the government of Chand- 
ragupta is testified to by Justin, who says that that 
prince, who freed his countrymen from the Mace- 
donian yoke, 'after his victory forfeited by his 
tyranny all title to the name of liberator, for he op- 
pressed with servitude the very people whom he had 
emancipated from foreign thraldom ^.' In addition 
to the law about evasion of municipal taxes just 
quoted, other illustrations of the extreme severity 
of the penal law are on record. When the king was 
on a hunting expedition, any person, man or woman, 
who went inside the ropes marking off the path of 
the royal procession was capitally punished. The 
same formidable penalty was attached to the offence 
of causing the loss of a hand or eye to an artisan, 
the reason apparently being that skilled workmen 
were regarded as being specially devoted to the king's 

' Strabo, xv. I, 50-52, in Ancient India, p. 86. 

^ Justin, XV. 4, in M'^Crindle, The Invasion of India hy 
Alexander the Great, p. 327. See also Watson's translation 
(Bohn), p. 142, 

J" 3 


service. In other cases wounding by mutilation was 
punishable by the amputation of the corresponding 
member of the offender, in addition to the loss of his 
right hand. The crime of giving false evidence was 
punished by mutilation of the extremities. According 
to one writer, some unspecified heinous offences were 
punished by the shaving of the offender's hair, which 
penalty was regarded as specially infamous ^. 

The mitigations of this sanguinary code introduced 
by Asoka the Humane were not very material. Late 
in his reign he ordained that every criminal condemned 
to death should have three days' respite before execu- 
tion to enable him to prepare for the other world, but 
the edict does not indicate any diminution in the 
number of capital offences or of the convicts condemned 
to death. The censors of the Law of Piety were com- 
manded to redress cases of wrongful imprisonment 
or undeserved corporal punishment, and were em- 
powered to remit sentence when the offender deserved 
mercy by reason of advanced age, sudden calamity, 
or the burden of a large family dependent on him for 
support. The actions of the censors in pursuance of 
these instructions cannot have had much practical 
effect. On each anniversary of his solemn coronation 
Asoka was in the habit of pardoning criminals await- 
ing execution, but, considering the fact that no 
condemned prisoner ever had more than three days' 
respite between sentence and execution, the number 

' Nicolas Damaso. 44 ; Stobaeus, Set-m. 42, in M<=Crindle's 
Ancient India, p. 73. 


who benefited by the royal clemency cannot have 
been very great ^. So far as the evidence goes, it 
indicates that Asoka maintained in substance the 
stern penal legislation and summary procedure of 
his illustrious grandfather, who had governed by 
despotism the empire won by bloodshed. 

It would, however, be rash to infer from these 
premises that the professed humanity of Asoka was 
hypocritical. The temper of the times and the 
universal custom of Oriental monarchies demanded 
severity in the punishment, and dispatch in the 
adjudication, of crime as indispensable characteristics 
of an efi&cient government. Asoka deserves credit 
for inculcating on his office'rs principles which, if 
followed, must have resulted in improved adminis- 
tration of justice, and for measures which in some 
degree mitigated the ferocity of established practice. 

The so-called Detached Edicts of Dhauli and 
Jangada, addressed to the governors and magistrates of 
the conquered province of Kalinga, display the sove- 
reign's earnest desire for merciful and considerate 

The mere extent of the empire which was trans- 
mitted from Chandragupta to Bindusara, and from 
Bindusara to Asoka, is good evidence that the organi- 
zation of the government, which was strong enough 
in military force to defeat foreign attacks, and to sub- 

' Pillar Edict IV : 'To prisoners who have been convicted 
and condemned to death I grant a respite of three days before 


due an extensive kingdom, was also adequate for the 
performance of civil duties. Pataliputra, situated in 
an eastern province, continued throughout the reigns 
of the three imperial Mauryas to be the capital of 
an empire exceeding British India in area, and extend- 
ing from sea to sea. The emperor, though destitute 
of the powerful aids of modem civilization, was able 
to enforce his will at Kabul, distant twelve hundred, 
and at Gimar, distant a thousand miles from his 
capital. He was strong enough to sheathe his sword 
in the ninth year of his reign, to treat unruly border 
tribes with forbearance, to cover his dominions with 
splendid buildings, and to devote his energies to the 
diffusion of morality and piety. 

How long the efforts of Asoka continued to bear 
fruit after the close of his protracted and brilliant 
reign we know not. Envious time has dropped an 
impenetrable veil over the deeds of his successors, 
and no man can tell the story of the decline and fall 
of the Maurya empire. 


The Monuments 

The extravagant legend which ascribes to Asoka 
the erection o£ eighty-four thousand stdpas, or sacred 
cupolas, within the space of three years, proves the 
depth of the impression made on the popular imagina- 
tion by the magnitude and magnificence of the great 
Maurya's architectural achievements. So imposing 
were his works that they were universally believed 
to have been wrought by supernatural agency. 

' The royal palace and halls in the midst of the city 
(Pataliputra), which exist now as of old, were all made by 
spirits which he employed, and which piled up the stones, 
reared the walls and gates, and executed the elegant 
carving and inlaid sculpture-work, in a way which no 
human hands of this world could accomplish ^.' 

Thus wrote the simple-minded FS,-hien at the begin- 
ning of the fifth century. A little more than two 
hundred years later, when Hiuen Tsiang travelled, the 
ancient city was deserted and in ruins, the effect of 
the departure of the court and the ravages of the 
White Huns. Now, 

' The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, 
The solemn temples,' 

' Chap, xxvii, Legge's translation. 


lie buried deep beneath the silt of the Ganges and 
Son rivers, and serve as a foundation for the East 
Indian Railway, the city of Patna, and the civil 
station of Bankipore. 

No example of the secular architecture of Asoka's 
reign has survived in such a condition as to permit of 
its plan and style being studied. The remains of the 
Maurya palace undoubtedly lie hid under the fields 
and houses of the village of Kumrahar, south of the 
railway line connecting Bankipore and Patna, but 
the slight excavations which have been undertaken 
do not suffice to render the remains intelligible, and 
the expense of adequate exploration would be prohi- 
bitive ^. 

The numerous and stately monasteries which Asoka 
erected at many places in the empire have shared 
the fate of his palaces, and not even one survives in 
a recognizable state. 

The st'iLpas, or cupolas, on which the emperor 
lavished so much treasure, have been more fortunate, 
and a large group of monuments of this class at 
Sanchi in Central India has been preserved in a 
tolerably complete state '^. 

A stiXpa was usually destined either to enshrine the 
relics of a Buddha or saint, or to mark the scene of 

' Waddell, Discovery of the Exact Site of Asoka's Classic Capital 
of PiUaliputra (Calcutta, 1892) ; and an unpublished report by 
Babu P. C. Mukharjt. 

^ Cunningbam, The Bhilsa Topes (London, 1854) ; Reports, 
X. 57 ; Epigraphia Indica (Btihler), ii. 87, 366. 


some event famous in the history of the Buddhist 
church. Sometimes it was built merely in honour of 
a Buddha. In Asoka's age a stUpa ■was a solid 
hemispherical mass of masonry, springing from a 
plinth which formed a perambulating path for 
worshippers, and was flattened at the top to carry 
a square altar-shaped structure, surmounted by a 
series of stone umbrellas. The base was usually 
surrounded by a stone railing, of which the pillars, 
bars, and coping-stones were commonly, though not 
invariably, richly carved and decorated with elaborate 
sculptures in relief. 

The great stUpa at Sanchi was a solid dome of 
brick and stone, 106 feet in diameter, springing from 
a plinth 14 feet high, and with a projection of 5i feet 
from the base of the dome. The apex of the dome 
was flattened into a terrace 34 feet in diameter, 
surrounded by a stone railing, within which stood 
a square altar or pedestal surrounded by another 
railing. The total height of the building, when 
complete, must have exceeded 100 feet. 

Many of Asoka's dUpas were much loftier, Hiuen 
Tsiang mentions one in Afghanistan which was 300 
feet in height, and in Ceylon one famous stilpa, when 
perfect, towered to a height exceeding 400 feet. 

The base of the great Sanchi stllpa was surrounded 
by a massive stone railing nearly 10 feet high, 
forming a cloister or passage round the sacred 
monument. This railing, which is very highly 
decorated, is later than Asoka's time. 


Several of the sMpas at and near Sanchi were 
opened and found to contain relic caskets hidden 
inside the mass of masonry. In No. 2 the relic 
chamber was discovered a feet to the westward of 
the centre, and 7 feet above the terrace. Inside the 
chamber was a sandstone box, 11 inches long, and 
9^ inches high, which contained four small steatite 
vases, in which fragments of bone had been enshrined. 
Numerous inscriptions vouched for these relics as 
belonging to some of the most famous saints of the 
Buddhist church, including two of the missionaries 
named in the Mahavamsa as the apostles of the 
Himalayan region, and the son of Moggali (Maudgalya), 
presumably Tissa, who, according to the Ceylonese 
chronicle, presided over the third Council. 

A very interesting relic of the age of Asoka was 
discovered by Sir Alexander Cunningham in 1873 at 
a village named Bharhut (Barahut) in Baghelkhand, 
about ninety-five miles south-west from Allahabad ^. 
He found there the remains of a brick sMpa of 
moderate size, nearly 68 feet in diameter, surrounded 
by an elaborately carved stone railing bearing numerous 
inscriptions in characters similar to those of the Asoka 
edicts. The stUpa had been covered with a coat of 
plaster, in which hundreds of triangular-shaped 
recesses had been made for the reception of lights 
for the illumination of the monument. On festival 

1 Cunningham, The Stiipa of Bharhut (London, 1879). The 
distance of 120 miles from Mlahabad, stated by Cunningham, is 
not correct according to the maps, including his. 


occasions it was the practice of the Buddhists to 
decorate stijbpas in every possible way, with flowers, 
garlands, banners, and lights. 

The railing of the Bharhut stijk'pa was a little more 
than 7 feet high, and was divided into four quadrants 
by openings facing the cardinal points. Each opening 
was approached by an ornamental gateway of the 
kind called toran. The beams of each toran were 
supported on composite pillars, each composed of four 
octagonal shafts joined together. Each of these shafts 
is crowned by a distinct bell capital. The four bell 
capitals are covered by a single abacus, on which 
rests a massive upper capital formed of two lions and 
two bulls, all couchant. Although the remains of the 
ornamental gateways or torans at Bharhut are very 
imperfect, enough is left to prove that these elaborate 
structures closely resembled the better preserved 
examples of later date at Sanchi. The complete cast 
of one of the Sanchi gates exhibited in the Indian 
Museum at South Kensington serves as an illustration 
of the similar gateways at Bharhut. Such of the 
Bharhut sculptures as were saved from the ruthless 
hands of the villagers were conveyed to Calcutta, 
where they now form one of the chief treasures of the 
Imperial Museum. One of the gateways has been 
partially restored, and portions of two quadrants of 
the railing have been set up beside it, in order to 
convey to visitors an idea of the nature of the 

The railing was composed of pillars, three cross-bars, 


or rails, and a heavy coping Each of the pillars is 
a monolith bearing a central medallion on each face, 
with a half medallion at the top and another at the 
bottom. Every member of the railing is covered 
with elaborate sculpture, which is of exceptional 
interest for the history of Buddhism, because it is to 
a large extent interpreted by explanatory contem- 
porary inscriptions. 

The remains of very similar railings of Asoka's 
age exist at Buddha Gaya ; and Babii P. C. Mukharji 
found parts of at least three different stone railings 
at Patna, some of which may be even earlier in date 
than Asoka ^. 

Besnagar near Sanchi, the ancient Vedisagiri, the 
home, according to the legend, of Devi the mother of 
Mahendra and Sanghamitra, son and daughter of 
Asoka, has yielded specimens of another sculptured 
railing of Maurya age, bearing dedicatory inscriptions ^. 

In ancient India both the Buddhists and the Jains 
were in the habit of defraying the cost of expensive 
religious edifices by subscription, each donor or group 
of donors being given the credit of having contributed 
a particular pillar, coping-stone, or other portion of 
the edifice on which the name of the donor was 
inscribed. It is interesting to find that the same 

' Babu P. C. Mukharji's discoveries are described in an unpub- 
lished report. For Buddha Gaya, see Cunningham, Mahdbodhi 
(London, 1 892), Rajendralala Mitra, Buddha Gayd, and Cun- 
ningham, Reports, vols, i, iii, viii, xi, xvi. 

^ Cunningham, Reports, x. 38. 


practice of crediting individual donors with the pre- 
sentation of single pillars existed in Hellenistic Asia. 
At the temple of Labranda in Caria, dating from the 
reign of Nero, or a little later, Sir Charles Fellows 
found twelve fluted columns, each of which bore a 
panel recording that it was the gift of such and such a 
person 1. The subscriptions of course must have been 
collected in cash, and the work must have been carried 
out by the architect in accordance with a general 
plan. The record of individual donors was intended 
not only to gratify their vanity and the natural desire 
for the perpetuation of their names, but to secure for 
them and their families an accumulation of spiritual 
merit. The Indian inscriptions frequently express 
this latter purpose. 

In addition to the statues of animals on the summit 
of monolithic pillars which will be described presently, 
a few specimens of sculpture in the round belonging 
to the Maurya period have been preserved in a 
tolerably complete state. 

Of these rare specimens one of the most remarkable 
is the colossal statue of a man seven feet in height 
found at Parkham, a village between MathurS, and 
Agra. This work is executed in grey sandstone 
highly polished. The arms are unfortunately broken, 
and the face is mutilated. The dress, which is very 
peculiar, consists of a loose robe confined by two bands, 
one below the breast and the other round the loins ^. 

^ Fellows, Asia Minor, pp. 261, 331, and plate (London, 1838). 
^ Cunningham, Reports, xx. 40, PI. vi. 


A colossal female statue of the same period found 
at Besnagar, 6 feet 7 inches in height, is of special 
interest as being the only specimen of a female statue 
in the round that has yet been discovered of so early 
a period ^, 

A standing statue of a saint with a halo, which 
crowned the northern detached pillar near the great 
st'Aioa at Sanchi, is considered by Cunningham to be 
one of the finest specimens of Indian sculpture ^. 

Asoka had a special fondness for the erection of 
monolithic pillars on a gigantic scale, and erected them 
in great numbers, inscribed and without inscriptions. 
Two, one at the southern, and the other at the northern 
entrance, graced the approaches to the great stilpa of 
Sslnchi. The northern pillar, which supported the 
statue of the saint, was about 45 feet in height; 
the southern pillar, which was crowned by four lions 
standing back to back, was some 5 f^®* lower. 
Both pillars, like the other monuments of the same 
class, are composed of highly polished, fine sandstone. 
The monolithic shaft of the southern pillar was 3 a 
feet in height. 

The Sanchi pillars, of which the southern one bears 

a mutilated inscription, corresponding with part of the 

Kausambi Edict on the Allahabad pillar, have been 

thrown down and sufiered much injury. Two only of 

Asoka's monolithic pillars still stand in a condition 

practically perfect ; one at Bakhira near Basar in the 

^ Cunningham, Reports, x. 44. 
" Bhilsa Topes, p. 197, PI. x, 


MuzafiFarpur Distiict, and the other at Lauriy^- 
Nandangarh (Navandgarh) in the Champaran District. 
A detailed description of these two monuments 
will suffice to give the reader an adequate idea of the 
whole class. 

The Bakhira pillar is a monolith of fine sandstone, 
highly polished for its whole length of 3 a feet above 
the water level. A square pedestal with three steps is 
said to exist under water. The shaft tapers uniformly 
from a diameter of 49-8 inches at the water level to 
38-7 at the top. The principal member of the capital 
is bell-shaped in the PersepOlitan style, 2 feet 10 
inches in height, and is surmounted by an oblong 
abacus la inches high, which serves as a pedestal 
for a lion seated on its haunches, 4^ feet in height. 

Two or three mouldings are -inserted between the 
shaft and the bell capital, and one intervenes between 
the latter and the abacus. 

The total height above the water level is 44 
feet 3 inches. Including the submerged position 
the length of the monument must be about 50 feet, 
and the gross weight is estimated to be about 50 
tons ^. 

In general design the Lauriya-Nandangarh pillar 
resembles that at Bakhira, but is far less massive. 
The polished shaft, which is 32 feet 9^ inches in 
height, diminishes from a base diameter of 35^ inches 
to a diameter at the top of 32 j inches, The abacus is 
circular, and is decorated on the edge with a bas-relief 
^ Cunningham, Reports, i. 56; xvi. 12. 


representing a row of geese pecking their food. The 
Jbeight of the capital, including the lion, is 6 feet 
lo inches. The whole monument, therefore, is nearly 
40 feet in height [Frontispiece) ^. 

The mutilated pillar at Rampurwa in the same 
district is a duplicate of that at Lauriya-Nandangarh. 
The capital of this pillar was attached to the shaft by 
a barrel-shaped bolt of pure copper, measuring a feet 
and half an inch in length, with a diameter of ^^■^. 
inches in the centre, and 3I inches at each end. This 
bolt was accurately fitted into the two masses of stone 
without cement ^. 

The circular abacus of the Allahabad pillar is de- 
corated, instead of the geese, with a graceful scroll 
of alternate lotus and honeysuckle, resting on a 
beaded astragalus moulding, perhaps of Greek 
origin ^. 

Asoka's monoliths frequently are placed in situations 
hundreds of miles distant from quarries capable of 
supplying the fine sandstone of which they are com- 
posed. The massiveness and exquisite finish of these 
huge monuments bear eloquent testimony to the skill 
and resource of the architects and stonecutters of the 
Maurya age. 

The two Asoka pillars which now stand at Delhi 

^ Cunningham, Reports, i. 73, PI. xxiv; xvi. 104, PL xxvii 
(copied in frontispiece). I am informed that the correct name 
of the great mound is Nandangarh, not Navandgarh. 

'^ Ibid., xvi. no, PI. viii; xxii. 51, PI. vi, vii. 

= Ibid., i. 298. 


were removed in a.d. 1356 by Firoz Shah Tughlak, 
the one from Topra in the Ambala (Umballa) District 
of the Panjab, and the other from Mirath (Meeru£) in 
the North- Western Provinces. The process of removal 
of the Topra monument is described by a contemporary 
author, and his graphic account is worth transcribing 
as showing the nature of the difficulties which were 
successfully and frequently surmounted by Asoka's 

* Khizrabad,' says the historian, 'is ninety kos from 
Delhi, in the Ticinity of the hills. When the Sultan 
visited that district, and saw the column in the Tillage of 
Topra, he resolved to remove it to Delhi, and there erect it 
as a memorial to future generations. After thinking over 
the best means of lowering the column, orders were issued 
commanding the attendance of all the people dwelling in 
the neighbourhood, within and without the Doab, and all 
soldiers, both horse and foot. They were ordered to bring 
all implements and materials suitable for the work. Direc- 
tions were issued for bringing parcels of the cotton of 
the silk-cotton tree. Quantities of this silk-cotton were 
placed round the column, and when the earth at its base 
was removed, it fell gently ov«r on the bed prepared for it. 
The cotton was then removed bj degrees, and after some 
days the pillar lay safe upon the ground. When the 
foundations of the pillar were examined, a large square 
stone was found as a base, which also was taken out. 

The pillar was then encased from top to bottom in reeds 
and raw skins, so that no damage might accrue to it. 
A carriage with forty-two wheels was constructed, and ropes 
were attached to each wheel. Thousands of men hauled at 
every rope, and after great labour and difficulty the pillar 



was raised on to the carriage. A strong rope was fastened 
to each wheel, and two hundred men pulled at each of 
thesff ropes. By the simultaneous exertions of so many 
thousand men, the carriage was moved and was brought to 
the banks of the Jumna. Here the Sultan came to meet it. 
A number of large boats had been collected, some of which 
could carry 5,000 and 7,000 maunds of grain, and the 
least of them 2,000 maunds. The column was very ingen- 
iously transferred to these boats, and was then conducted 
to Firozabad [old Delhi], where it was landed and conveyed 
into the Kushk with infinite labour and skill.' 

The historian then proceeds to narrate how a 
special building was prepared for the reception of the 
monument, which was raised to the summit, where it 
still stands, with precautions similar to those attending 
its removal from its original site ^. 

The pillar thus removed with so much skill is the 
most interesting of all the Asoka columns, being the 
only one on which the invaluable Pillar Edict VII is 
incised. Fa-hien, the first Chinese pilgrim, whose 
travels lasted for fifteen years from A. D. 399, mentions 
only three Asoka pillars, namely, two at Pataliputra, 
and one at Sankasya. 

The later pilgrim, Hiuen Tsiang, who travelled 
in the seventh century, notices specifically sixteen 
pillars ascribed to Asoka. Of these, only two have been 
identified with absolute certainty, the uninscribed 
column at Bakhiraand the inscribed one at Rummindei. 
A third, the Nigliva pillar, which does not occupy its 

• Shams-i-Siraj, quoted in Carr Stephen's Archaeology of 
Delhi, p. 131. 



original position, is probably that seen by Hiuen 
Tsiang near the stUpa of Kanakamuni. The two great 
pillars, seventy feet high, one surmounted by the figure 
of an ox and the other by a wheel, which stood at 
the entrance of the famous Jetavana monastery near 
Sravasti, are believed to still exist buried in a Nepa- 
lese forest, but their actual discovery remains to reward 
some fortunate explorer. Fragments of several pillars 
of the Asoka period have been disclosed by excavations 
at and near Patna, which probably include the two 
mentioned by the Chinese pilgrims as existing there. 

Nine pillars bearing inscriptions of Asoka are 
known to exist, none of which are mentioned by the 
pilgrims, except the monument at Rummindei, and 
probably that at Nigliva. It is a very curious fact 
that the Chinese travellers nowhere make the slight- 
est allusion to the Asoka edicts, whether incised on 
rocks or pillars. The inscriptions on pillars which 
they noted were brief dedicatory or commemorative 
records. The following list of the known inscribed 
pillars will be found useful for reference: — 








n summit of KotMla 
in the ruined city Fi- 
rozabad near Delhi; 
from Topra in Am- 
bala District, by Fi- 
roz Shah Tughlak. 

Cited by Cunning- 
ham as ' Delhi-Si- 
valik,' and by Senart 
as ' Idt of Firoz,' or 
'D^' Pillar Edicts 
I-VII nearly com- 
plete. Capital mo- 

a 2 











6 Rampur- 



On ridge at Delhi, 
where it was re- 
erected by English 
removed in a.d. 1 356 
from Meerut by Firoz 
Shah, and erected 
inthegrounds of his 
hunting-lodge near 
present position. 

Near Ellenborough 
Barracks in the Fort 
at Allahabad, but 
probably removed 
from Kausambi. 

At the Lauriya ham- 
let, a mile from tem- 
ple of Mahadeo Ar- 
araj, 20 miles N.W. 
of Kesariya stUpa, 
and on the road to 
Bettia, in the Cham- 
paran District of 
North Bihar. 
Near a large village 
named Lauriya, 3 
miles N. of Mathia, 
and 1 5 miles NNW. 
of Bettia, in the 
At Eampurwa ham- 
let, near large vil- 
lage named Piparia 
(K long. 84° 34', N. 
lat. 27° 15' 45"), in 
NE. corner of Cham- 
paran District. 
At southern entrance 
to great stupa of 
Sanchi in Bhopal 


Cited by Senart as 
'Delhi 2' or 'Dl' 
Pillar Edicts I- VI 
much mutilated. 
Broken into five 
pieces, now joined 
together. Capital 

Pillar Edicts I-VI; 
also Queen's Edict 
and Kausambi 

Edict, all imperfect. 
Capital modem, 
except abacus. 

Cited by Senart as 
'Radhiah,' or 'R.' 
Pillar Edicts I-VI 
practically perfect. 
Capital lost. 

Cited by Senart as 
'Mathiah,' or 'M.' 
Pillar Edicts I-VI 
practically perfect. 
Capital complete. 

Imperfectly excava- 
ted. Inscription, so 
far as excavated, in 
good condition, the 
same as on Nos. 4 
and 5. Capital im- 
Fallen and broken, 
but the capital re- 
mains. Inscription 
much mutilated, be- 
ing a version of the 
Kausambi Edict on 
the Allahabad pillar. 








On -west bank of Ni- 
gliva (NigMi) S^gar 
near Nigliva village 
in Nepalese TarS/i, 
north of the Basti 

At Rummindei in 
the Nepalese Tarai, 
about 6 miles north 
from Dulha in the 
Bastt District, and 
13 miles nearly SE. 
from No. 8. 


In two pieces, and 
not in original posi- 
tion ; capital miss- 
ing. Imperfect in- 
scription, recording 
visit of Asoka to 
of Konaka- 


Cited by Biihler as 
Paderia, from name 
of village to south. 
Split by lightning 
and imperfect ; the 
bell portion of the 
capital remains. 
Absolutely perfect 
inscription, record- 
ing visit of Asoka to 
the Lumbini garden. 

The rock inscriptions of Asoka are the most peculiar 
and characteristic monuments of his reign. The 
longer inscriptions all consist of different recensions of 
the fourteen Rock Edicts, published in the thirteenth 
and fourteenth years of the reign, and were recorded 
at localities situated in the more remote provinces of 
the empire. 

The village of Shahbazgarhi is situated on the site 
of an ancient city, the Po-lu-sha of Hiuen Tsiang, in 
the Yiisufzai country, forty miles north-east of 
Peshawar, and more than a thousand miles in a direct 
line distant from Pataliputra (Patna), the capital of 
the Maurya empire. The principal inscription is 
recorded on both the eastern and western faces of 
a mass of trap rock, 24 feet long and 10 feet high. 

102 ASOKA 

which lies on the slope of the hill south-east of the 
village. The Toleration Edict, No. XII, discovered by 
Colonel Deane a few years ago, is incised on a separate 
rock about fifty yards distant from the main record. 
The text of all the fourteen edicts is nearly perfect ^- 

Another copy of the fourteen edicts (omitting the 
fourteenth) has been recently discovered at Mansera 
in the Hazara District of the Panjab, inscribed on 
two rocks. The text is less complete than that at 
Shahbazgarhi. Both- these recensions agree in being 
inscribed in the form of Aramaic character, written 
from right to left, and now generally known by the 
name of Kharoshthi. They also agree in giving 
special prominence to the Toleration Edict, which has 
at Mansera one side of the rock to itself, and at 
Shahbazgarhi is inscribed on a separate rock ^. 

The third version of the edicts found on the 
northern frontier of the empire is at Kalsi in the 
Lower Himalayas, on the road from Saharanpur to 
the cantonment of Chakrata, and about fifteen miles 
westward from the hill-station of Mussoorie (Man- 
sClri). The record is incised on a block of white quartz 
about ten feet long and ten feet high, which stands near 
the foot of the upper of two terraces overlooking the 
junction of the Tons and Jumna rivers. The text of 

' Cunningham, BepoHs, v. 9-22, PI. iii-v; Epigraphia In- 
dica, ii. 447 ; M. Foucher in nth Intent. Congress of Orientalists, 
Paris, p. 93. This recension is often cited under the name of 
Kapurdagiri, a neighbouring village. 

' Epigraphia Indica, ii. 447; Indian Antiquary, xix. (1890), 43. 


the edicts is nearly complete, and agrees closely with 
the ManserS, recension^. The character used, as in 
all the Asoka inscriptions, except Shahbazgarhi and 
Mansera, is an ancient form of the Brahmi character, 
the parent of the modem Devanagarl and allied 

Two copies of the fourteen edicts were published 
on the western coast. The fragment at SopS,rS,, in the 
Thana District north of Bombay, consists only of a 
few words from the eighth edict, but is enough to show 
that a copy of the edicts once existed at this place, 
which, under the name of Sfirparaka, was an impor- 
tant port in ancient times for many centuries ^. 

The Gimar recension, the earliest * discovered, is 
incised on the face of a granite block on the Girnar 
hill to the east of the town of Jillnagarh in the pen- 
insula of Kathiawar •''. M. Senart's translations are 
based principally on this recension, which has suiFered 
many injuries. 

Two copies of the edicts are found near the coast of 
the Bay of Bengal, within the limits of the kingdom 
of Kalinga conquered by Asoka in the ninth year of 

' The name is written Khalsi by Cunningham and Senart, 
but Kalst seems to be the correct form (Cunningham, Reports, 
i. 244, PI. xl. I ; Corpus Inscr. Indicarum, i. 1 2 ; Epigraphia 
Indica, ii. 447). 

^ Indian Antiquary, i. 321 ; iv. 282; vii. 259; and Bhagvan 
Lai Indraji, article ' Sopara ' in Journal Bomb. Br. R. A. 8. for 
1882 (reprint). 

' Corpus, p. 14; Senart, Inscriptions de Piyadasi, ii. 266, &c. ; 
Epigraphia Indica, ii. 447". 

104 ASOKA 

his reign. The northern copy is incised on a rock 
named Aswastama near the summit of a low hill near 
Dhauli, about four miles a little west of south from 
Bhuvanesvar in the Katak District of Orissa. A space 
measuring fifteen feet by ten on the face of the rock 
has been prepared to receive the inscription ^. 

The southern copy is engraved on the face of a rock 
situated at an elevation of about I30 feet in a mass 
of granitic gneiss rising near the centre of an ancient 
fortified town known as Jaugada in the Ganjam 
District of the Madras Presidency, eighteen miles west- 
north-west from the town of Ganjam, in 19° 13' 15" 
north latitude, and 84° 53' 55" east longitude ^. 

The Dhauli 'and Jaugada recensions are practically 
duplicates, and agree in omitting Edicts XI, XII, and 
XIII. They also agree in exhibiting two special 
edicts, the Borderers' and the Provincials' Edicts, which 
are not found any^vhere else. The texts of the 
Kalinga recensions are very imperfect ^. 

The series of the fourteen Rock Edicts is therefore 
known to occur, in a form more or less complete, at 

' Corpus, p. 15 (some statements inaccurate); Reports, xiii. 95. 

^ Corpus, p. 17 ; Repotis, xiii. 112; Sewell, i/)s<s of Antiqui- 
fies, Madras, i. 4; Mr. Grahame's Report, dated Feb. 22, 1872, 
in Indian Antiquary, i. 219. 

' For the Kalinga (' Separate ' or ' Detached ') Edicts, see 
Corpus, p. 20; Itidian Antiquary, xix. (1890), 82. All the 
Asoka inscriptions except the more recent discoveries, namely, 
the Mansera version of the fourteen edicts, Edict XII at Shah- 
bazgarhi, the Tarai Pillar Edicts, the Rampurwa Pillar, the 
Sopara fragment, and the Siddapura inscriptions, are dealt with 
in M. Senart's book, Inscriptions de Piyadasi, published in 1878. 


seven places, namely Shahbazgarhi, Mansera, Kalsi, 
Sopar^, Gimar, Dhauli, and Jaugada. It is possible 
that other versions may yet be discovered. 

The Minor Rock Edicts present a single short edict 
in variant forms, to which a second still shorter edict, 
a summary of the Buddhist moral law, is added in the 
Siddapura group of copies only. These Minor Edicts 
are scattered nearly as widely as the fourteen Rock 
Edicts, being found at Bairat in Rajputana, RClpnath in 
the Central Provinces, Sahasram in Bengal, and Sidda- 
pura in Mysore. Three copies exist at and near 
Siddapura ^. 

The Bhabra Edict forms a class by itself. It is in- 
scribed on a detached boulder of reddish-grey granite 
of moderate size, which was discovered in 1837 on 
the top of a hill near the ancient city of Bairat in 
Rajputana, where a copy of the first Minor Rock Edict 
exists. The boulder is now in the rooms of the 
Asiatic Society of Bengal in Calcutta. This edict is 
peculiar in being addressed to the Buddhist clergy ^. 

The Supplementary Pillar Edicts are short docu- 
ments of comparatively small importance inscribed 
on the pillars at Allahabad and SS-nchi ^- 

The two inscribed pillars in the Nepalese Tarai 

' Mr. Rice's report, Edicts of Asoka in Mysore, Feb., 1892; 
Buhler, in Epigraphia Indica, iii. 134. 

^ Quoted as ' second Bairat rock ' in Corpus, p. 24 ; Indian 
Antiquary, xx. (1891), 154. 

' Buhler's editions of the ' Queen's ' and ' Kausambi ' Edicts 
are in Indian Antiquary, xix. (1890), 123. He edited tbe Sanchi 
fragment in Epigraphia Indica, ii. 87, 366. The Sanchi pillar 
is described in Bhilsa Topes, p. 193. 

io6 ASOKA 

record the visits paid by Asoka to two Buddhist holy 
places of great sanctity, and the brief inscriptions in 
the Barabar caves near Gaya record the presentation 
to the Ajivika ascetics of rock-hewn cave dwellings. 
These dwellings are hewn out of solid granite, and the 
walls have been polished with infinite pains ' 

The known Asoka inscriptions may be conveniently 
arranged, approximately in chronological order, in 
eight classes : — 

I. The Fourteen Rock Edicts, in seven recensions as 
already enumerated ; 

II. The two Kalinga Edicts at Dhauli and Jaugada ; 

III. The Minor Rock Edicts, in four recensions, as 
above enumerated, of the first edict, and in three copies 
of the second edict ; 

IV. The Bhabra Edict ; 

V. The three Cave Inscriptions ; 

VI. The two Tarai Pillar Inscriptions, at Nigliva 
and Rummindei ; 

VII. The Seven Pillar Edicts ; in six recensions, as 
above enumerated ; and 

VIII. The Supplementary Pillar Edicts, namely, the 
Queen's Edict and the Kausambi Edict on the Allah- 
abad pillar, and a variant of the Kausambi Edict on the 
Sanchi pillar. 

The number of distinct documents may be reckoned 
as thirty-four (1, 14 ; II, 2 ; III, 2 ; IV, i ; V, 3 ; VI, 2 ; 
VII, 7; VIII, 3). 

^ Cunningham, Corpus, p. 30 ; Reports, i. 45. Buhler has 
edited the inscriptions in Indian Antiquary, xx. (1891), 361. 


The inscriptions are all written in forms of Prakrit, 
that is to say, vernacular dialects nearly allied to 
literary Sanskrit. But the dialects of the inscriptions 
are to a considerable extent peculiar, and are not 
identical either with Pali or any of the literary 
Prakrits. Most of the inscriptions are written in the 
dialect known as Magadhi, then current at the 
capital of the empire, where the text was evidently 
prepared. The versions published at the distant 
stations of Girnar and Shahbazgarhi were prepared in 
the viceregal offices, and exhibit many local peculiar- 
ities. The texts in the Central Provinces and Mysore 
are intermediate in character between those of Girnar 
and those of the east. 

The minute study of the Asoka inscriptions by 
many scholars, among whom M. lilmile Senart and the 
late Dr. Biihler occupy the place of honour, has 
greatly contributed to the elucidation of numerous 
problems in the history of Indian civilization, but 
a full discussion of the results obtained would be too 
technical for these pages. 

The arts in the age of Asoka had undoubtedly 
attained to a high standard of excellence. 

The royal architects were capable of designing and 
erecting spacious and lofty edifices in brick, wood, and 
stone, of handling with success enormous monoliths, 
of constructing massive embankments with convenient 
sluice-gates, and of excavating commodious chambers 
in the most refractory rock. Sculpture was the hand- 
maid of architecture, and all notable buildings were 

io8 ASOKA 

freely and richly adorned with decorative patterns, an 
infinite variety of bas-reliefs, and numerous statues of 
men and animals. The art of painting was no doubt 
practised, as we know it was practised with success 
in a later age, but no specimen that can be referred to 
the Maurya period has escaped the tooth of time. 

The skill of the stone-cutter may be said to have 
attained perfection. Gigantic shafts of hard sandstone, 
thirty or forty feet in length, and enormous surfaces 
of granite, were polished like jewels, and the joints of 
masonry were fitted with the utmost nicety. White 
ants and other destructive agencies have prevented 
the preservation of any specimens of woodwork, save 
a few posts and beams buried in the silt of the rivers 
at Patna, but the character of the carpenter's art of 
the period is known from the architectural decoration, 
which, as Fergusson so persistently pointed out, is 
derived from wooden prototypes. The beads and other 
jewellery and the seals of the Maurya period and 
earlier ages, which have been frequently found, 
prove that the Indian lapidaries and goldsmiths of the 
earliest historical period were not inferior to those of 
any other country. The recorded descriptions and 
sculptured representations of chariots, harness, arms, ac- 
coutrements, dress, textile fabrics, and other articles of 
necessity and luxury indicate that the Indian empire 
had then attained a stage of material civilization pro- 
bably equal to that attained under the famous Mughal 
emperors in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. 
The Greek writers speak with the utmost respect of 


the power and resources of the kingdoms of the 
Prasii and Gangaridae, that is to say, Magadha or 
Bihar, and Bengal. 

Writing was in common use. The Brahmi alphabet, 
the parent of the modern Devanagari and most of the 
other alphabets now used in India, a descendant from 
remote Phoenician ancestry, exhibits in the inscrip- 
tions so many varieties that it must have been already 
in use for several centuries. The Sanchi relic caskets 
prove that the use of ink for writing was familiar. 
The care taken to publish the emperor's sermons by 
inscribing them on rocks, boiolders, and pillars along 
the main lines of communication implies the existence 
of a considerable public able to read the documents ^. 

Asoka's selection of seven 'passages' from the 
Buddhist scriptures, as his specially cherished texts, 
implies the existence at the time of a large body of 
collected doctrine, which must have been preserved in 
a written form. The vast mass of prose books in- 
cluded in the Buddhist canon could not have been 
preserved for centuries by memory only. 

The history of the origin and developm'ent of all 
this advanced civilization is very imperfectly known. 
With very small exceptions, consisting of a few coin 
legends, the short dedicatory inscription on the relic 

' See Biihler's admirable disaertationa in his Indische Palaeo- 
graphie {Grundriss, 1896), and his papers on the origin of the 
Brahmi and Kharoshthi alphabets, reprinted from Band cxxxii 
of the Sitzungsberichte der kais. Akad. der Wiss. in Wien, 1895 ; 
and Hoernle, ' An Epigraphical Note on Palm-leaf, Paper, and 
Birch-bark,' in J. A. S. B., Part i, Ixix. (1900), 130. 


casket in the Piprava d'Apa, and possibly two or three 
other very brief records, the Asoka inscriptions are 
the earliest known Indian documents. The historical 
links connecting the alphabet of these documents with 
its Semitic prototype are, therefore, wanting. But 
Biihler was probably right in deriving the Brahmt 
alphabets of Asoka from Mesopotamia, and in dating 
the introduction of the earliest form of those alpha- 
bets into India in about B.C. 800. Dr. Hoernle 
brings the date a century or two lower dowi^. 

The Kharoshthi alphabet, written from right to left, 
in which the Shahbazgarhi and Mansera recensions of 
the edicts are recorded, is undoubtedly a form of the 
Aramaic or Syrian character introduced into the regions 
on the north-western frontier of India after the con- 
quest of the Panjab by Darius, the son of Hystaspes, 
about B.C. 500. The Persian sovereignty in those 
regions probably lasted up to the invasion of Alex- 

The imposing fabric of the Achaemenian empire of 
Persia evidently impressed the Indian mind, and 
several circumstances indicate a Persian influence on 
Indian civilization. The frontier recensions of the 
edicts are not only written in the character used by 
the Persian clerks, they also use a pure Persian word 
to express 'writing,' and each edict opens with a 
formula ' Thus saith King Priyadarsin,' which recalls 
the stately language of the Achaemenian monarchs. 

The pillars, both the detached monumental mono- 
liths and the structural columns, of Asoka's architec- 


ture are obviously Persian. The characteristic features, 
the stepped base, the bell capital, and the combined 
animals of the upper capital, are distinctly Achaeme- 
nian. The bas-reliefs give innumerable examples of 
such pillars, in addition to the considerable number of 
existing structural specimens. The winged lions, and 
several other details of architectural decoration, are 
expressions of Assyrian influence. The acanthus 
leaves, astragalus and bead moulding, and honeysuckle 
decoration of some of Asoka's capitals are probably to 
be explained as borrowed from Greek, or Hellenistic, 
originals ^. 

In the Buddhist Jataka stories, which depict the life 
of India in the fifth and sixth centuries b. c, archi- 
tecture is all wooden. In Asoka's age the material of 
architecture is generally either brick or stone, imitating 
wooden prototypes. This change is probably in the 
main to be ascribed to Asoka. Hiuen Tsiang records 
the tradition that he built a masonry wall round the 
capital, replacing the old wooden palisade which con- 
tented the founder of the Maurya empire ^. Although 
this is the only recorded instance of the substitution of 
brick or stone for timber, it is probably a symbol of a 
general transformation, for no certain example of any 
masonry building older than Asoka's time, except a 
few very plain stUi'pas, is known to exist. The stlipa, 

' See Cunningham, Beports, i. 243, iii. 97, 100; v. 189; 
V. A. Smith, ' Graeco-Eoman Influence on the Civilization of 
Ancient India,' in Journal As. Soc. Bengal, Part i. (1889) ; and 
Perrot and Chipiez, History of Art in Persia, pp. 86 to 120. 

"^ Beal, ii. 85. 

112 ASOKA 

or sacred cupola, itself is, of course, an exception to the 
statement that Maurya architecture followed wooden 
forms, the stUpa being obviously a development of 
the earthen tumulus. The ornamental railings which 
surrounded the principal stilpas, and the toran gate- 
ways of those railings, are in every feature and every 
detail copies of woodwork. 

The imitation of woodwork in these structures is 
so obvious, and tbe forms are clearly so much more 
suitable for wood than stone, that even the finest 
examples excite, along with admiration, a feeling of 
disapproval based on the incongruity between the 
design and the material. The fa9ades of buildings 
represented in the bas-reliefs suggest timber models 
with equal distinctness, and wood, of course, must have 
been actually used to a large extent for balconies and 
other features of the front elevations of buildings, as it 
is to this day. 

The artistic merit of the sculptures, although not 
comparable with the masterpieces of Greek genius, 
is far from being contemptible. The few surviving 
specimens of statues of the human figure in the 
round are either so mutilated, or the descriptions 
and plates representing them are so imperfect, that 
it is difficult and hazardous to pronounce an opinion 
on their merits as works of art. The lions of the 
Bakhira and Lauriyfi,-Nandangarh pillars, though some- 
what stiff and formal, are creditable performances, 
and the paws are executed with regard to the facts 
of nature. The elephants, as usual in Indian sculp- 


ture, are the best of the animals. The fore-half of 
an elephant is carved in the round from the rock 
over the Dhauli copy of the edicts, and seems to be 
well executed. It occupies that position as an emblem 
of Gautama Buddha, and is replaced at Kalsi by a 
drawing of an elephant incised on the stone. 

The sculptures in bas-relief, if they cannot often be 
described as beautiful, are full of life and vigour, and 
frankly realistic. No attempt is made to idealize the 
objects depicted, although the artists have allowed 
their fancy considerable play in the representations 
of tritons and other fabulous creatures. The pictorial 
scenes, even without the help of perspective, tell their 
stories with vividness, and many of the figures are 
designed with much spirit. As in almost all Indian 
sculpture, the treatment of the muscles is conventional 
and inadequate. 

Images of the Buddha were not known in the age 
of Asoka, and are consequently absent from his 
sculptures. The Teacher is represented by symbols 
only, the empty seat, the pair of foot-prints, the 

The decorative ornaments of the Asoka sculptures 
much resemble those found on many Buddhist and 
Jain structures for several centuries subsequent. 
They exhibit great variety of design, and some of 
the fruit and flower patterns are extremely elegant. 


The Rock Inscbiptions 

1. The Fourteen Rock Edicts 

{Thirteenth and Fourteenth Years) 



This pious edict has been written by command of 
His Sacred Majesty King Priyadarsin ^ : — 

Here [? in the capital] ^ no animal may be slaugh- 

' The headings to the edicts, of course, do not exist in the 
original. They have been devised and inserted to facilitate 
the understanding of the documents, and to bring out clearly 
the fact, which is liable to be obscured by the repetition of 
phrases, that each edict is appropriated to a special subject. 

" The title dev&ndm priya (Pali, devAnam piya) is literally 
translated 'beloved of the gods,' or devas. But such a literal 
translation is misleading. The title was the official style of 
kings in the third century b. c, and was used by Dasaratha, 
grandson of Asoka, and Tishya (Tissa), King of Ceylon, as well 
as by Asoka. The phrase ' His Sacred Majesty,' or, more briefly, 
'His Majesty,' seems to be an adequate equivalent. In the 
Shahbazgarhi, Kalsi, and Mansera versions of Rock Edict VIII, 
the title in the plural, ' Their Majesties,' is used as the equivalent 
oi rdjano, 'kings,' in the GirnS,r text. See p. 124, note i. 

The Shahbazgarhi and Mansera recensions use the Sanskrit 
form Priyadarsin ; the other recensions use the Pali form 
Piyadasi. In this work the Sanskrit forms of proper names 
have generally been preferred. 

' The word ' here ' probably refers to the capital, Pataliputra, 
or, possibly, to the palace only. So, ia the Shahbazgarhi, 


fcered for sacrifice, nor may holiday-feasts be held, for 
His Majesty King Priyadarsin sees manifold evil in 
holiday-feasts. Nevertheless, certain holiday-feasts 
are meritorious in the sight of His Majesty King 
Priyadarsin ^. 

Formerly, in the kitchen of His Majesty King 
Priyadarsin, each day many thousands of living crea- 
tures were slain to make curries. 

At the present moment, when this pious edict is 
being written, only these three living creatures, 
namely two peacocks and one deer, are killed daily, 
and the deer not invariably. 

Even these three creatures shall not be slaughtered 
in future. 



Everywhere in the dominions of His Majesty King 
Priyadarsin^, and likewise in neighbouring realms, 
such as those of the Chola, Pandya, Satiyaputra, and 
Keralaputra, in Ceylon, in the dominions of the Greek 
King Antiochus, and in those of the other kings sub- 
ordinate to that Antiochus — everywhere ^ on behalf of 

Kaisi, and Mansera recensions of Rock Edict V, the phrase 
' here and in all the provincial towns ' corresponds to ' at Pata- 
liputra,' &c. of the Girnar recension. In the present passage 
M. Senart's rendering is 'ici-bas.' See p. 120, note 4. 

•' ' Holiday-feast ' seems to be the best rendering for samdja. 
Such feasts were usually attended with destruction of aniiaal 
life. If such destruction were avoided, even holiday-feasta 
might be considered meritorious {sddhumatd, Girnftr), or excel- 
lent (srestamati, Shahb.). See Rhys Davids, ' Dialogues,' p. 7. 

° Shahbazgarhi omits the word ' king.' 

' The Chola kingdom had its capital at TJraiyur, near 
Trichinopoly. Madura was the capital of the Pandya king- 
dom. Kerala is the Malabar coast. The position of the Satija- 

H 2, 

ii6 ASOKA 

Hi8 Majesty King Priyadarsin, have two kinds of 
remedies [1 hospitals] been disseminated — remedies 
for men, and remedies for beasts ^. Healing herbs, 
medicinal for man and medicinal for beast, wherever 
they were lacking, have everywhere been imported and 

In like manner, roots and fruits, wherever they 
were lacking, have been imported and planted. 

On the roads, trees have been planted, and wells 
have been dug for the use of man and beast ^. 



Thus saith His Majesty King Priyadarsin : — 

In the thirteenth year of my reign ^ I issued this 

command : — 

Everywhere in my dominions the lieges, and the 

Commissioners, and the District Officers * must every 

putra is not known. Antiocliu3=Aatiochus Theoa (B.C. 261- 
246). The kings subordinate to Antioehus cannot be identified. 

' M. Senart translates chikisaka (chiklchha, Skr. chikitsa) as 
'remedes'; Biihler follows the older versions, and renders 
' hospitals.' I am disposed to agree with M. Senart. 

' The passage beginning at ' Healing ' is given in a briefer 
form in the Shahbazgarhi version. The text follows the fuller 

' Literally, ' by me anointed twelve years.' The regnal years 
are always reckoned from the time of the solemn consecration 
or anointing (ahhisheka) , which may be conveniently rendered 
' coronation.' 

* In rendering yutd (yuta) as an adjective meaning 'loyal' 
and qualifying rajuko (Shahb.), Biihler has overlooked the three 
words cha (' and ') in the Girnar text (yutd cha rdjAke cha 
prAdesike cha), which necessitate the interpretation otyutd as a 

The rajjukas {r&jiike) were high revenue and executive officers, 


five years repair to the General Assembly, for the 
special purpose, in addition to other business, of 
proclaiming the Law of Piety, to wit, ' Obedience 
to father and mother is good; liberality to friends, 
acquaintances, relatives, Brahmans, and ascetics is 
good ; respect for the sacredness of life is good ; 
avoidance of extravagance and violence of language 
is good.' 

The clergy will thus instruct the lieges in detail, 
both according to the letter and the spirit ^. 



For a long time past, even for many hundred years, 
the slaughter of living creatures, cruelty to animate 
beings, disrespect to relatives, and disrespect to 
Brahmans and ascetics, have grown. 

But now, by reason of the practice of piety by His 
Majesty King Priyadarsin, instead of the sound of the 
war-drum, the sound of the drum of piety is heard, 
while heavenly spectacles of processional ears, ele- 
phants, illuminations, and the like, are displayed to 
the people ^. 

superior in rank to the prddesikas. I have translated the two 
words by familiar Anglo-Indian terms. Prof. Kern translates the 
teim anusamydna&a 'tour of inspection,' instead of ' assembly.' 

* ParisA = clergy (samgha), according to M. Senart, whom 
I follow. Biihler paraphrases ' the teachers, and ascetics of all 
schools,' and continues 'will inculcate what is befitting at 
divine service.' I follow M. Senart in translating yute (yutani) 
as ' the lieges ' (fldeles), and gananAyam (gananasi) as ' in detail.' 

* Literally (Senart, i. 100), ' But now, by reason of the 
practice of piety by His Majesty, the sound of the war-drum, 
or rather the sound of the law of piety, [is heard] bringing with 
it the display of heavenly spectacles,' &c. The progress of the 
Buddhist teaching is compared to the reverberation of a drum, 
and is accompanied by magnificent religious processions and 

ii8 AS OKA 

As for many hundred years past has not happened, 
at this present, by reason of His Majesty King Priya- 
darsin's proclamation of the law of piety, the cessation 
of slaughter of living creatures, the prevention of 
cruelty to animate beings, respect to relatives, respect 
to Brahmans and ascetics, obedience to parents and 
obedience to elders, are growing. 

Thus, and in many other ways, the practice of piety 
is growing, and His Majesty King Priyadarsin will 
cause that practice to grow still more. 

ceremonies, wliioh are described as heavenly spectacles, taking 
the place of military pageants. Fa-hien's description of a 
grand Buddhist procession at Pataliputra, although centuries 
later in date, is the best commentary on this passage, and is 
therefore quoted in full : — 

' Every yeai- on the eighth month they celebrate a procession 
of images. They make a four-wheeled car, and on it erect a 
structure of five storeys by means of bamboos tied together. 
This is supported by a king-post, with poles and lances slanting 
from it, and is rather more than twenty cubits high, having the 
shape of a tope. White and silk-like cloth of hair (? Cash- 
mere) is wrapped all round it, which is then painted in various 

They make figures of devas, with gold, silver, and lapis lazuli 
grandly blended, and having silken streamers and canopies hung 
out over them. On the four sides are niches with a Buddha seated 
in each, and a Bodhisattva standing in attendance on him. 

There may be twenty cars, all grand and imposing, but each 
one different from the others. On the day mentioned, the 
monks and laity within the borders all come together; they 
have singers and skilful musicians; they pay their devotions 
with flowers and incense. The Brahmans come and invite the 
Buddhas to enter the city. These do so in order, and remain 
two nights in it. All through the night they keep lamps burn- 
ing, have skilful music, and present ofi'erings. 

This is the practice in all the other kingdoms as well.' 
(Ch. xxvii, Legge's translation.) 


The sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons of His 
Majesty King Priyadarsin will promote the growth of 
that practice until the end of the cycle, and, abiding 
in piety and morality, will proclaim the law of piety ; 
for the best of all deeds is the proclamation of the 
law of piety, and the practice of piety is not for the 
immoral man ^ 

In this matter growth is good, and not to decrease 
is good. 

For this very purpose has this writing been made, 
in order that men may in this matter strive for 
growth, and not suifer decrease. 

This has been written by command of His Majesty 
King Priyadarsin in the thirteenth year of his reign. 



Thus saith His Majesty King Priyadarsin : — 

A good deed is a difficult thing. 

The author of a good deed does a difficult thing. 
Now by me many good deeds have been done. Should 
my sons, grandsons, and my descendants after them 
until the end of the cycle follow in this path, they 
will do well ; but in this matter, should a man neglect 
the commandment ^, he will do ill, inasmuch as sin is 
easily committed. 

Now in all the long ages past, officers known as 
Censors of the Law of Piety had never been appointed, 
whereas in the fourteenth year of my reign Censors 
of the Law of Piety were appointed by me. 

They are engaged among people of all sects ^ in 

' Stla = morality, or virtue ; astla = immoral. 

^ Desam = sandesam, ' commandment.' Bflhler renders ' he 
who will give up even a portion of these virtuous acts, will 
commit sin.' I have followed M. Senart. See p. 123, note 2. 

' Savap&sandesu. Considering how closely related were all 

120 ASOKA 

promoting the establishment of piety, the progress of 
piety, and the welfare and happiness of the lieges ^, 
as well as of the Yonas, Kambojas, Gandharas, Eash- 
trikas, Pitenikas, and other nations on my borders ^. 

They are engaged in promoting the welfare and 
happiness of my hired servants \) soldiers], of Brah- 
mans, of rich and poor 3, and of the aged, and in 
removing hindrances from the path of the faithful 

They are engaged in the prevention of wrongful 
imprisonment or chastisement, in the work of remov- 
ing hindrances and of deliverance, considering cases 
where a man has a large family, has been smitten by 
calamity, or is advanced in years. 

Here, at Pataliputra *, and in all the provincial 

the forms of ' religion ' current in Asoka's empire, I prefer to 
render by ' sects ' rather than ' creeds.' 

^ Dhammayutasa, as a collective, ' the lieges,' or ' the faithful.' 
The Rock Edicts being addressed to the population in general, 
there is difficulty in restricting the term to the Buddhists only, 
as M. Senart does. Btihler ti-anslates ' loyal subjects.' 

^ Yonas (Yavanas), some of the semi-independent foreign 
tribes on the north-western frontier; Gandharas, the people of 
the Yusufzai country ; Kambojas, also a north-western tribe ; 
Rashtrikas, uncertain ; Pitenikas, uncertain. 

' Senart and Bvihler differ widely in their interpretation of 
this passage. ' Among my hired servants, among Brahmans 
and Vai^yas, among the unprotected and among the aged, they 
are busy with the welfare and happiness, with the removal of 
obstacles among my loyal ones' (Buhler). 

' lis s'occupent . . . des guerriers, des brahmanes et des riches, 
des pauvres, des vieillards, en vue de leur utilite et de leur 
bonheur, pour lever tous les obstacles devant les fideles de la 
[vraie] religion ' (Senart). 

* The gloss ' at Pataliputra ' is found in the Girnar text only, 
and was evidently inserted locally to make the word ' here ' 
intelligible. See p. 114, note 3. 


towns, they are engaged in the superintendence of all 
the female establishments ^ of my brothers and sisters 
and other relatives. 

Everywhere in my dominions these Censors of the 
Law of Piety are engaged with those among my 
lieges who are devoted to piety, established in piety'', 
or addicted to almsgiving. 

For this purpose has this pious edict been written — 
that it may endure for long, and that my subjects may 
act accordingly ^. 



Thus saith his Majesty King Priyadarsin : — 
For a long time past business has not been disposed 
of, nor have reports been received at all hours *. 

' Members of the royal family were stationed as viceroys or 
governors at at least four provincial towns, Taxila, Ujjain, 
Tosali, and Suvarnagiri. I abstain from translating olodhanesu 
by ' harem ' (Biihler), or ' zenana,' because those terms connote 
the seclusion of women, which was not the custom of ancient 
India. M. Senart translates the word by ' I'interieur.' 

^ The phrase dhramadhitane, ' established in piety,' is omitted 
from the Kalsi text. For dhammayutasi, see page 120, note I ; 
in this passage it seems to be an adjective qualifying vijitasi, 
' dominions.' 

' M. Senart translates :— ' C'est dans ce but que cet edit 
a ete gravd. Puisse-t-il durer longtemps, et puissant les crea- 
tures suivre ainsi mes examples.' PajA {praja) is batter trans- 
lated ' subjects ' than ' creatures.' It still has the meaning of 
' subjects ' in Hindi. 

* The institution of oflScial reporters {pativedakAs) existed in 
the time of Chandragupta. ' The overseers, to whom is as- 
signed the duty of watching all that goes on, and making 
reports secretly to the king. Some are entrusted with the 
inspection of the city, and others with that of the army. The 

122 ASOKA 

I have accordingly arranged that at all hours and 
in all places — whether I am dining or in the ladies' 
apartments, in my bedroom, or in my closet, in my 
carriage, or in the palace gardens^ — the official 
reporters should keep me constantly informed of the 
people's business, which business of the people I am 
ready to dispose of at any place ^. 

And if, perchance, I personally by word of mouth 
command that a gift be made or an order executed, or 
anything urgent is entrusted to the officials ^, and in 
that business a dispute arises or fraud occurs among 
the clergy *, I have commanded that immediate report 

former employ as their coadjutors the courtezans of the city, 
and the latter the courtezans of the camp. The ablest and 
most trustworthy men are appointed to fill these offices' 
(Megasthenes, quoted by Strabo, xv. i. 48 ; in M'^Crindle, 
Ancient India, p. 85). 

' The exact meaning of some of these words is uncertain. 
GahMgSra, which I translate ' bedroom,' following M. Senart, 
is translated ' sanctuary ' by Prof. Kern. Vracha, ' closet,' seems 
to mean ' latrine.' VinUamhi — ' carriages ' (Biihler) ; = ? ' re- 
traite religieuse,' or 'oratory' (Senart). I have adopted Buhler's 

* Compare Megasthenes' account of Chandragupta : — 'The 
king leaves his palace not only in time of war, but also for 
the purpose of judging causes. He then remains in court for 
the whole day, without allowing the business to be inter- 
mpted, even though the hour arrives when he must needs 
attend to his person, that is, when he is to be rubbed by 
cylinders of wood. He continues hearing cases while the 
friction, which is performed by four attendants, is still proceed- 
ing' (Strabo, xv. i. 56, in Ancient India, p. 72). 

' ' Officials,' mah&mdteau. In some passages I have translated 
this word as ' magistrates.' 

* ' Clergy,' parisd. M. Senart considers this word to be 
a synonym of samgha, and translates ' I'assemblee du clerg^.' 
Buhler translates ' committee [of any caste or sect].' 


must be made to me at any hour and at any place, for 
I am never fully satisfied with my exertions and my 
dispatch of business. 

Work I must for the public benefit — and the root 
of the matter is in exertion and dispatch of business, 
than which nothing is more efficacious for the general 
welfare. And for what do I toil 1 For no other end 
than this, that I may dispharge my debt to animate 
beings, and that while I make some happy in this 
world, they may in the next world gain heaven. 

For this purpose have I caused this pious edict to 
be written, that it may long endure, and that my sons, 
grandsons, and great-grandsons may strive for the 
public weal ; though that is a difficult thing to attain, 
save by the utmost toil ^. 



His Majesty King Priyadarsin desires that in all 
places men of all sects may abide, for they all desire 
mastery over the senses and purity of mind. 

Man, however, is unstable in his wishes, and unstable 
in his likings. 

Some of the sects will perform the whole, others 
will perform but a part of the commandment. Even 
for a person to whom lavish liberality is impossible, 
the virtues of mastery over the senses, purity of mind, 
gratitude, and fidelity are always meritorious ^. 

^ The text of the concluding paragraph varies slightly in the 
different recensions. The Kaisi text adds the words ' my -wives.' 
M. Senart translates ' puisse-t-il subsister longtemps ! et que 
mes fils,' &c. 

" I have followed M. Senart in his amended rendering of 
ehadeSam (Ind. Ant. xix. 87), see p. 119, note 2; and in his 
interpretation of nichd {niche) as = nityam, ' always ' : Biihler 
takes the word as = ntcha, and translates ' in a lowly man.' 

124 ASOKA 



In times past Their Majesties ['Kings,' Girndry used 
to go out on so-called ^ tours of pleasure, during which 
hunting and other similar amusements used to be 

His Majesty King Priyadarsin, however, in the 
eleventh year of his reign went out on the road 
leading to true knowledge ^, whence originated here * 
tours devoted to piety, during which are practised the 
beholding of ascetics and Brahmans, with liberality to 
them, the beholding of elders, largess of gold, the 
beholding of the country and the people, proclamation 
of the law of piety, and discussion of the law of 
piety ^ 

' Devdnam priya (ShaM). ),devana priya (M.\aiid dev&narhpiya 
(Kalsi), all plural forms, meaning ' Their Majesties,' equivalent to 
rdjdno,' kings,' of Girnar text. The words are AtikdtantaMaram 
rajdno vihdrayatdm iiaydsu (G.) ; and Atikamtam amtalam 
devdnampiyd vihdlaydtam ndma niJchamisu (K.). M. Senart 
(i. 192) was provided with faulty texts. See p. 114, note 2. 

" The word ndma (nama), ' so-called,' is omitted in the Girnar 

' M. Senart's commentary (i. 186) requires modification. 
The true sense is explained by Prof. Rhys Davids in Dialogues 
of the Buddha, p. 191. The 'road' on which the emperor set 
out is ' the eight-fold path ' leading to the state of an Arhat. 
The steps in the ' eight-fold path' are (l) right views, (2) right 
feelings, (3) right words, (4) right behaviour, (5) right mode of 
livelihood, (6) right exertion, (7) right memory, (8) right medi- 
tation and tranquillity (Rhys Davids, Buddhism, p. 108). 

* 'Here' may mean 'at Pataliputra' (see p. 114, note 3; 
p. 120, note 4), or ' in the empire.' 

° Dasane (draiane) means the respectful visit to and viewing 
of an object deserving of veneration, such as a living saint or 
the image of a god. The word (darsan) is in common use to 


Consequently, since that time, these are the pleas- 
ures of His Majesty King Priyadarsin, in exchange 
for those of the past. 



Thus saith His Majesty King Priyadarsin : — People 
perform various ceremonies ^ on occasions of sickness, 
the weddings of sons, the weddings of daughters *, the 
birth of children, and departure on journeys. On these 
and other similar occasions people perform many 

But at such times the womankind * perform many, 

this day. The dharma, or law of piety, requires reverence to 
be shown to Brahmans, ascetics, and elders ; and Asoka, there- 
fore, considers the reverential beholding of such persons to be 
an act of merit. In his capacity of sovereign and father of his 
people he likewise claims credit for beholding, or inspecting, 
the country and people. The Girnar text alone inserts the 
word ' and ' between ' the country ' and ' the people.' 

' Translated from the Shahb§.zgarhi text, in general accord- 
ance with Btihler's interpretation. The recensions of this edict 
differ more widely than usual. 

^ ' Ceremonies,' or ' ceremonial,' mamgalam. ' Mamgdlam 
embrasse deux nuances de signification dont on a tour a tour 
exagere I'importance particuliere, et qu'il n'est pas aise de 
mettre suffisamment au relief dans une traduction concise : — 
I'idee de fete, de rejouissance (cp. I'usage, et I'idee de 
pratiques religieuses qui doivent porter bonheur a qui lea 
accomplit ' (Senart, i. 203). In the J3,takas, as M. Senart 
informs me, the word is specially applied to the worship of the 
Hindoo deities. 

' Avdha, vivdha. Cf. Latin ducere and nuhere. 

* 'Womankind,' striydka; mahiddyo (Girnar), ? = Skr. 
mahild ; halika janika (ManserEl), = Skr. Mlaka ; abakajaniyo 

126 ASOKA 

manifold, corrupt, and worthless ceremonies. Cere- 
monies certainly have to be performed, although that 
sort is fruitless. This sort, however — the ceremonial 
of piety — bears great fruit ; it includes kind treatment 
of slaves and servants, honour to teachers, respect for 
life, liberality to ascetics and Brahmans. These things, 
and others of the same kind, are called the ceremonial 
of piety. 

Therefore ought a father, son, brother, master, friend, 
or comrade, nay even a neighbour, to say: 'This is 
meritorious, this is the ceremonial to be performed 
until the attainment of the desired end.' By what 
sort of ceremonies is the desired end attained? for 
the ceremonial of this world is of doubtful efficacy; 
perchance it may accompUsh the desired end, per- 
chance its effect may be merely of this world. The 
ceremonial of piety, on the contrary, is not temporal ; 
if it fails to attain the desired end in this world, it 
certainly begets endless merit in the other world. If it 
happens to attain the desired end, then a gain of two 
kinds is assured, namely, in this world the desired end, 
and in the other world the begetting of endless merit 
through the aforesaid ceremonial of piety ^. 



His Majesty King Priyadarsin does not believe that 
glory and renown bring much profit unless the people 
both in the present and the future obediently hearken 
to the Law of Piety, and conform to its precepts. 

' ' En effet, ce qui distingue la pratique de la religion des 
pratiques du rituel, suivant Piyadasi, c'est que la premiere pro- 
duit infailliblement des fruits qui s'etendent a I'autre monde, 
tandis que les autres peuvent tout au plus avoir des effets 
limites au temps present et a la circonstance particuliere qui 
en a ete I'occasion ' (Senart, i. 217). 


For that purpose only does His Majesty King 
Priyadarsin desire glory and renown. 

But whatsoever exertions His Majesty King Priya- 
darsin has made, all are for the sake of the life 
hereafter, so that every one may be freed from peril, 
which peril is sin. 

Difficult, verily, it is to attain such freedom, whether 
people^ be of low or of high degree, save by the 
utmost exertion and complete renunciation; but this 
is for those of high degree extraordinarily difficult ^. 



There is no such charity as the charitable gift of the 
Law of Piety, no such friendship as the friendship in 
piety, no such distribution as the distribution of piety, 
no such kinship as kinship in piety. 

The Law of Piety consists in these things, to wit, 
kind treatment of slaves and servants, obedience to 
father and mother, charity to ascetics and Brahmans, 
respect for the sanctity of life. 

Therefore a father, son, brother, master, friend, or 
comrade, nay even a neighbour, ought to say : ' This 
is meritorious, this ought to be done.' 

He who acts thus both gains this world and begets 
infinite merit in the next world, by means of this 
very charity of the Law of Piety ^. 

' ' People,' janena (Girnar) ; vagrena (Shahb. and Mansera) ; 
vagena (Kalsi). Varga = ' class of people.' The reading is 
quite certain. 

'' Cf. Matthew xix. 23 : 'It is hard for a rich man to enter 
into the kingdom of heaven.' For the exhortation to exertion, 
cf. the sermon of Nigrodha from Dhammapada, v. 21, in Dipa- 
tamsa, vi. 23 : ' Earnestness (appamddo) is the way to immor- 
tality, indifference is the way to death ; the earnest do not die, 
the indifferent are like the dead' (Oldenberg's translation). 

' The translation is from the ShahbS-zgarhi text. The other 

128 ASOKA 



His Majesty King Priyadarsin does reverence to 
men of all sects, whether ascetics or householders, by 
donations and various modes of reverence. 

His Majesty, however, cares not so much for dona- 
tions or external reverence as that there should be a 
growth of the essence of the matter in all sects. The 
growth of the essence of the matter assumes various 
forms, but the root of it is restraint of speech, to 
wit, a man must not do reverence to his own sect by 
disparaging that of another man for trivial reasons. 
Depreciation should be for adequate reasons only, 
because the sects of other people deserve reverence 
for one reason or another. 

By thus acting, a man exalts his own sect, and at 
the same time does service to the sects of other people. 
By acting contrariwise, a man hurts his own sect, and 
does disservice to the sects of other people. For he 
who does reverence to his own sect, while disparaging 
all other sects from a feeling of attachment to his own, 
on the supposition that he thus glorifies his own sect, 
in reality by such conduct inflicts severe injury on his 
own sect. 

Self-control ^, therefore, is meritorious, to wit, heark- 
ening to the law of others, and hearkening willingly. 

texts differ slightly in phraseology. The ninth edict above may 
be compared. The general sense is that every man is bound to 
communicate the Law of Piety to his neighbour, and that such 
communication is better than any material almsgiving. In 
that Law men are bound by stronger ties than those of natural 
kindred. Compare the expression ddy&do sdsane, ' a relation of 
the Faith,' in Dtpavamsa, vii. i6, 17, &c. Biihler and M. Senart, 
have rightly understood this edict, while Prof. Kern (Ind. Ant. 
V. 270) has erred. 

' ' Self-control,' sayamo (Shahb.). Girnar text has samavdyo, 
' concord.' 


For this is His Majesty's desire, that adherents of all 
sects should be fully instructed and sound in doctrine. 

The adherents of the several sects must be informed 
that His Majesty cares not so much for donations or 
external reverence as that there should be a growth, 
and a large growth, of the essence of the matter in all 

For this very purpose are employed the Censors 
of the Law of Piety, the Censors of the Women, the 
(?) Inspectors', and other official bodies^. And this 
is the fruit thereof — the growth of one's own sect, 
and the glorification of the Law of Piety. 



His Majesty King Priyadarsin in the ninth year of 
his reign conquered the Kalingas *. 

^ The Censors of Women are alluded to in Pillar Edict VII. 
VachdbhAmikd, conjecturally rendered ' Inspectors,' is of uncer- 
tain meaning. 

^ ' Official bodies,' nikdyd (nikaye). Cf. the Boards described 
by Megasthenes. 

' When M. Senart's book was published, the interpretation of 
this celebrated edict, ' pour laquelle presque tout reste a faire,' 
depended chiefly on an imperfect transcript of the Ka,lsi text. 
The publication of a practically complete facsimile of the 
Shahb8,zgarM text has rendered possible a translation in which 
very little doubt remains. 

* ' The Kalingas,' Kalimgani ; the country extending along the 
coast of the Bay of Bengal from the Mah§,nadi river on the north to 
or beyond the Krishna river on the south ; often called ' the Three 
Kalingas,' which are supposed to be the kingdoms of Amaravati, 
Andhra or Warangal, and Kalinga proper or Rajamahendri. 
In this edict the name is used in both the singular and the 
plural. The Dhauli and Jaugada rock inscriptions are situated 
in this conquered province. 



One hundred and fifty thousand persons were thence 
carried away captive, one hundred thousand were there 
slain, and many times that number perished. 

Ever since the annexation ^ of the Kalingas, His 
Majesty has zealously protected the Law of Piety, has 
been devoted to that law, and has proclaimed its 

His Majesty feels remorse on account of the conquest 
of the Kalingas, because, during the subjugation of a 
previously unconquered country, slaughter, death, and 
taking away captive of the people necessarily occur, 
whereat His Majesty feels profound sorrow and regret. 

There is, however, another reason for His Majesty 
feeling still more regret, inasmuch as in such a 
country dwell Brahmans and ascetics, men of differ- 
ent sects, and householders, who all practise obedience 
to elders, obedience to father and mother, obedience to 
teachers, proper treatment of friends, acquaintances, 
comrades, relatives, slaves and servants, with fidelity 
of devotion ^. To such people dwelling in that country 
happen violence, slaughter, and separation from those 
whom they love. 

Even those persons who are themselves protected 
retain their affections undiminished: — ruin falls oh 
their friends, acquaintances, comrades, and relatives, 
and in this way violence is done to those who are 
personally unhurt ^. All this diffused misery* is matter 
of regret to His Majesty. For there is no country 
where such communities are not found, including 
others besides Brahmans and ascetics, nor is there any 

' ' Conquered,' vijita ; ' annexed,' ladheshu. 

^ That is to say, wlio practise the dharma, or Law of Piety, of 
which a summary is given. 

^ That is to say, they are hurt in their feelings. 

* ' Diffused misery,' equivalent to Buhler's ' all this falls sever- 
ally on men.' M. Senart denies the distributive sense of prati- 
Ihagam, and translates (i. 309) ' toutes les violences de ce genre.' 


place in any country where the people are not attached 
to some one sect or other ^. 

The loss of even the hundredth or the thousandth part 
of the persons who were then slain, carried away 
captive, or done to death in Kalinga would now be a 
matter of deep regret to His Majesty. 

Although a man should do him an injury, His Majesty 
holds that it must be patiently borne, so far as it can 
possibly be borne. 

Even upon the forest tribes in his dominions His 
Majesty has compassion, and he seeks their conversion, 
inasmuch as the might even of His Majesty is based on 
repentance. They are warned to this effect — 'Shun 
evil-doing, that ye may escape destruction'; because 
His Majesty desires for all animate beings security, 
control over the passions, peace of mind, and joy- 
ousness ''. 

And this is the chief est conquest, in His Majesty's 
opinion — the conquest by the Law of Piety ; this also 
is that effected by His Majesty both in his own 
dominions and in all the neighbouring realms as far 
as six hundred leagues* — even to where the Greek 
king named Antiochus dwells, and beyond that 
Antiochus to where dwell the four kings severally 
named Ptolemy, Antigonus, Magas, and Alexander * ; — 
and in the south, the kings of the Cholas, and Pandyas, 

* This sentence is translated from the fuller form in the 
Kalsi text, as corrected hy M. Senart from the newly discovered 
Girnar fragment. (J.E.A.S. for 1900, p. 339.) 

' ' Joyousness,' rabhasiye (Sh§,hb.), mMavam (Girnar), madata 
(Kalsi). The translation of the first sentence of this paragraph 
is in accordance with M. Senart's corrections. 

' 'League,' yojana, a varying measure, commonly taken as 
equal to seven or eight miles. 

* Antiochus Theos, of Syria ; Ptolemy Philadelphus, of Egypt ; 
Antigonus Gonatas, of Macedonia ; Alexander, of Epirus ; Magas, 
of Cyrene. 

I 3 

132 ASOKA 

and of Ceylon 1 — and likewise here, in the King's 
dominions, among the Yonas, and Kambojas, in 
Nabhaka of the Nabhitis, among the Bhojas and 
Pitinikas, among the Andhras and Pulindas^, every- 
where men follow the Law of Piety as proclaimed by 
His Majesty. 

Even in those regions where the envoys of His 
Majesty do not penetrate ^, men now practise and will 
continue to practise the Law of Piety as soon as they 
hear the pious proclamation of His Majesty issued in 
accordance with the Law of Piety. 

And the conquest which has thereby been every- 
where effected — the conquest everywhere effected, 
causes a feeling of delight. 

Delight is found in the conquests made by the 
Law*. Nevertheless, that delight is only a small 
matter. His Majesty thinks nothing of much im- 
portance save what concerns the next world. 

' The Chola capital was at Uraiyur near Trichinopoly ; the 
Pandya capital was at Madura. Tishya (Tissa) was the con- 
temporary king of Ceylon. 

'^ The Yonas (Yavanas) must mean the clans of foreign race 
(not necessarily Greek) on the north-western frontier, included 
in the empire ; the Kambojas seem to have been also a north- 
western tribe. I cannot offer any explanation of 'Nabhaka of the 
Nabhitis' (Buhler). The Andhras inhabited the country near 
the Krishna river, at the southern extremity of the Kalingas. 
Subsequently, they established a powerful kingdom. The Pu- 
lindas seem to have occupied the central parts of the Peninsula. 
The Pitinikas maj^have been the inhabitants of Paithana on 
the Godaveri. (See M. Senart in Ind. Ant. xx. 248, and J. R. A. S. 
for 1900, p. 340.) The names enumerated are those of border 
tribes under the suzerainty of Asoka. 

' Missionaries were dispatched in the eleventh or twelfth year 
T)f the reign. 

■* Biihler's rendering accidentally omits the words Ladha 
[bhoti] priti dhramavijat/aspi. 


And for this purpose has this pious edict been 
written, to wit, that my sons and grandsons, as many 
as they may be, may not suppose it to be their duty 
to effect a new conquest ; and that even when engaged 
in conquest by arms they may find pleasure in patience 
and gentleness, and may regard as the only true 
conquest that which is effected through the Law of 
Piety ', which avails both for this world and the next. 
Let all their pleasure be the pleasure in exertion, which 
avails both for this world and the next. 



This set of edicts^ of the Law of Piety has been 
written by command of His Majesty King Priyadarsin 
in a form sometimes condensed, sometimes of medium 
length, and sometimes expanded ^ ; for everything is 
not suitable* in every place, and my dominions are 

Much has already been written, and I shall cause 
much more to be written ^. 

Certain phrases in the edicts have been uttered again 
and again, by reason of the honeyed sweetness of such 
and such a topic, in the hope that the people may act 
up to them. 

' I think I have given the meaning correctly, and in accor- 
dance with the intention of Biihler. 

'^ Dhammalipi is here a collective noun. 

' The Minor Rock Edicts offer a veiy clear example of this 
practice. Several illustrations may be observed in the Fourteen 
Rock Edicts. 

* 'Suitable,' ghaiitam; Senart translates 'r^uni,' or 'brought 
together ' ; Kern translates ' worked out.' 

^ This promise is fulfilled in the Minor Rock Edicts, Pillar 
Edicts, &c. 

134 ASOKA 

It may be that something has been incompletely 
written out — if so, it is due to lack of space, or 
to some special reason, or to a blunder of the 

(2) The Kalinga (so-called Separate or Detached) 
Bock Edicts 

{Fourteenth year and later) 

(so-called no. it) 

the duties of officials to the boeder teibes ^ 

Thus saith His Majesty : — 

At Samapa the officials are to be instructed in the 
King's commands as follows ^ : — 

I desire my views to be practically acted upon and 
carried into effect by suitable means ; and, in my 
opinion, the principal means for accomplishing this 
object are my instructions to you. 

' Biihler, whom I have followed, seems to be right in his 
interpretation of this passage ; M. Senart takes a different 

^ This edict, called No. II by Prinsep and all subsequent 
writers, is manifestly a continuation of the main series, and 
contemporary with that series in the fourteenth year of the 
reign. The so-called No. I edict is of later date. It seems to 
me more inconvenient to retain a misleading nomenclature 
than to make a change. I propose to call these .edicts the 
Kalinga Edicts ; the names ' Separate Rock,' or ' Detached Rock 
Edicts,' being awkward and meaningless. 

' From the Jaugada text. The duplicate at Dhauli, which is 
not so well preserved, is addressed to the prince and magistrates 
at Tosali. 


All men are my children^, and, just as for my 
children I desire that they should enjoy all happiness 
and prosperity both in this world and in the next, so 
for all men I desire the like happiness and prosperity. 

If you ask what is the King's will concerning the 
border tribes, I reply that my witl is this concerning 
the borderers — that they should be convinced that the 
King desires them to be free from disquietude. I desire 
them to trust me and to be assured that they will 
receive from me happiness, not sorrow, and to be 
convinced that the King bears them good will, and 
I desire that (whether to win my good will or merely 
to please me) they should practise the Law of Piety, 
and so gain both this world and the next. 

And for this purpose I give you instructions. When 
in this manner I have once for all given you my 
instructions and signified my orders, then my resolu- 
tions and my promises are immutable. 

Understanding this, do your duty, and inspire these 
folk with trust, so that they may \>q convinced that 
the King is unto them even as a father, and that, as 
he cares for himself, so he cares for them, who are 
as the King's children. 

Having given you my instructions, and notified to 
you my orders — my resolutions and promises being 
immutable — I expect to be well served by you in this 
business, because you are in a position enabling you to 
inspire these folk with trust and to secure their happi- 
ness and prosperity both in this world and in the next ; 
and by so acting you will gain heaven and discharge 
your debt to me. 

It is for this purpose that this edict has been 
inscribed here in order that the officials may display 
persevering energy in inspiring trust in these borderers 
and guiding them in the path of piety. 

This edict should be recited every four months at 
the Tishya Nakshatra festival, and at discretion, as 

' PajA (prajd) means ' subjects ' as well as ' children.' 

136 ASOKA 

occasion offers, in the intervals, it should be recited to 
individuals ^ Take care by acting thus to direct 
people in the right way. 




By command of His Majesty : — ■ 

At Tosali the officers in charge of the administration 
of the city ^ are to be instructed as follows : — 

I desire my views to be practically acted upon and 
carried into effect by suitable means ; and, in my 
opinion, the principal means for accomplishing this 
object are my instructions to you; for you have 
been set over many thousands of living beings to 
gain the affection of good men. 

All men are my children, and, just as for my 
children I desire that they should enjoy all happiness 
and prosperity both in this world and in the next, so 
for all men I desire the like happiness and prosperity. 

You, however, do not gain the best possible results ■*. 

' The year was divided into three seasons of four months 
each. The days of the month were named according to the 
constellation (nakshatra) in which the moon was supposed to be. 
Tishya is a lucky constellation. 

^ The Dhauli text is the better preserved. The correspond- 
ing Jaugada text is addressed to the officers in charge of the 
town of Samapa, which has not been identified. 

' MdhdmMd is the generic term for officials. It survives in 
the Hindi mahdwat, with the specialized sense of elephant- 
driver. The city was probably, like the capital, in charge of 
a municipal commission. 

* This passage confirms the indication afforded by the posi- 


There are individuals who heed only part of my 
teaching and not the whole. You must see to such 
persona so that the moral rule may be observed. 

There are, again, individuals who have been put in 
prison or to torture. You must be at hand to stop 
unwarranted imprisonment or torture. Again, many 
there are who suffer acts of violence. It should be your 
desire to set such people in the right way. 

There are, however, certain dispositions which 
render success impossible, namely, envy, lack of 
perseverance, harshness, impatience, want of applica- 
tion, idleness, indolence. 

You, therefore, should desire to be free from such 
dispositions, inasmuch as the root of all this teaching 
consists in perseverance and patience in moral guidance. 
He who is indolent does not rise to his duty, and yet 
an officer should bestir himself, move forward, go on. 
The same holds good for your duty of supervision. 
For this reason I must repeat to you, 'Consider and 
know that such and such are His Majesty's instruc- 
tions.' Fulfilment of these orders bears great fruit, 
non-fulfilment brings great calamity. By officers who 
fail to give such guidance neither the favour of heaven 
nor the favour of the King is to be hoped for. My 
special insistence on this duty is profitable in two 
ways, for by following this line of conduct you will 
both win heaven and discharge your debt to me. 

This edict must be recited at every Tishya Nakshatra 
festival, and at intervals between Tishyas, as occasion 
offers, it should be read to individuals. And do you take 
care by acting thus to direct people in the right way. 

For this purpose has this edict been inscribed here 
in order that the officers in charge of the city may 
display persevering zeal to prevent unwarranted 
imprisonment or unwarranted torture of the citizens. 

And for this purpose, in accordance with the Law of 

tion of this edict on the rock that it is of later date than the 
so-called No. I. 

138 ASOKA 

Piety ^, every five years I shall cause to be summoned 
to the Assembly those men who are mild, patient, and 
who respect life ^, in order that hearing these things 
they may act according to my instructions. 

And the Prince of Ujjain shall for the same purpose 
summon an Assembly of the same kind, but he must 
perform this duty every three years without fail. The 
same order applies to Taxila. 

The officials attending the Assembly, while not 
neglecting their special duties, will also learn this 
teaching, and must see that they act according to 
the King's instructions. 

(3) The Minor Hock Edicts 

[Eighteenth year) 



By order of the Prince and magistrates at Suvar- 
nagiri, tlie magistrates at Isila, after greetings, are 
to be addressed as follows * : — 

' Dhammate ; M. Senart translates ' regulierement.' 

^ M. Senart takes this description as equivalent to ' Bud- 
dhists,' and believes that the Assembly (anusamydna) was 
composed of Buddhists only. These Assemblies were first insti- 
tuted in the thirteenth year. 

' Three recensions of this edict and the next exist on rocks 
at and near Siddapura in Mysore, namely, at Siddapura itself, 
at Jatinga-Ramesara, and at Brahmagiri. The last named, 
being the most perfect, has been translated. Variant recensions 
of the first edict alone occur at Sahasram in Bengal, at Rup- 
nath in the Central Provinces, and at Bairat in Rajputana. Of 
these three recensions that at Rupnath is the best preserved, 
and a translation of it is given. 

* ' The Prince,' governor or viceroy of the South, stationed at 


His Majesty commands : — 

For more than two years and a half I was a lay 
disciple without exerting myself strenuously. A period 
of six years, or rather more than six years, has elapsed 
since I joined the Order ^ and have strenuously ex- 
erted myself, and during this time the m,en who were, 
all over India, regarded as true, have been, with their 
gods, shown to be untrue ^. 

For this is the fruit of exertion, which is not to be 
obtained for himself by the great man only ; because 
even the small man can, if he choose, by exertion win 
for himself much heavenly bliss. 

For this purpose has been proclaimed this precept, 
namely * — ' Let small and great exert themselves to 
this end.' 

My neighbours, too, should learn this lesson ; and 
may such exertion long endure ! 

And this purpose will grow — yea, it will grow 
vastly — at least half as great again will be its growth. 

And this precept was proclaimed by the Departed. 
256 [years have elapsed since then 1] *. 

Suvarnagiri, which has not been identified. 'Magistrates,' or 
' ofiicials,' mahdm&td. ' After greetings,' literally, ' to be wished 
good health.' The heading of this edict is of interest as a 
specimen of ofBcial style in the days of Asoka. 

^ I agree with Buhler and Prof. Kern that this is the only 
legitimate interpretation. 

' 'All over India,' Jamhudipasi. Compare the Rupnath re- 
cension. The primary reference is to the Brahmans. When 
their authority was rejected, their gods were also deposed. 

' ' Proclaimed this precept,' sAvane savdpite. The words (re- 
placed in Rupnath text by savane hate) are repeated in the 
puzzling final sentence, which consequently refers only to the 
brief maxim, ' Let small and great exert themselves.' Biihler's 
rendering of sdvane by ' sermon ' is not suitable to a laconic 

* This passage is the most puzzling one in the whole series of 
edicts, and nobody has yet succeeded in devising a convincing 



(bOpnath text) 

Thus saith His Majesty : — 

For more than two years and a half I continued 
to be a hearer of the Law ^ without exerting myself 
strenuously. A period, however, of more than six 
years has elapsed since I joined the Order and have 
strenuously exerted myself. 

interpretation. Buhler to the last (Ind. Ant. xxii. 302) main- 
tained that vyuthend (vivuthena), ' the Departed,' meant Sakya- 
muni Buddha, and that the numerals 256 expi-ess the period 
elapsed since his death. If this view be correct, and it seems, 
perhaps, less open to objection than the rival interpretations, 
the date of the Buddha's death would be fixed in or about the 
year b. c. 508, a date which seems to be historically unobjection- 
able, provided that the Ceylonese chronology is disregarded. 
The calculation stands thus : — 


Coronation of Asoka 269 

Conquest of Kalinga in 9th year ; Asoka becomes a lay 

disciple 261 

2^ years of moderate exertion, plus about 6| years of 
strenuous exertion, total about 9 years, from B.C. 261 

to date of Minor Rook Edicts 252 

To this add 256, and the result for Sakyamuni Buddha's 

death is 508 

The mysterious passage is given in a fuller form in the Rupnath 
and Sahasram texts. The translation of the Rupn§,th recension 

M. Senart thinks that the reference is to the departure of 
256 missionaries, and this interpretation is tempting, if not 
quite convincing. M. Boyer (Journal Asiatique, No v. -Dec. 1898) 
suggests that the Buddha's departure from his home is the 
event alluded to. This suggestion does not seem to be sound. 

^ ' Hearer of the Law,' savake, corresponding to updsike, ' lay 
disciple,' in the Brahmagiri text. 


The gods who at that time, all over India, were 
regarded as true gods have now become untrue gods. 

For this is the fruit of exertion, which is not to be 
obtained by the great man only; because even the 
small man can by exertion win for himself much 
heavenly bliss. 

And for this purpose was given the precept, ' Let 
small and great exert themselves.' 

My neighbours, too, should learn this lesson; and 
may such exertion long endure ! 

For this purpose of mine will grow its growth — 
yea, it will grow vastly — at least half as large again 
will be its growth. 

And this purpose has been written on the rocks, 
both here and in distant places ; and wherever a stone 
pillar exists, it must be written on the stone pillar. 

And as often as a man seasons his cooked food with 
this condiment he will be satisfied even to satiety [or, 
in alternative, ' as often as a man applies deep thought 
to this writing, he will rejoice at being able to subdue 
his senses ^ ']. 

This precept has been given by the Departed. 356 
[years have elapsed] from the departure of the 
Teacher [1]. 


(bkahmagiei text) 

summary of the law of piety ^ 

Thus saith His Majesty : — 

Father and mother must be obeyed ; similarly, re- 
spect for living creatures must be enforced ; truth 

' BuMer's interpretation. 

^ Compare with the summaries of the Law of Piety given in 
Rock Edicts III, IV, IX, XI, and Pillar Edict VII. The notable 
diflference in style proves that the second edict of the Siddapura 
group of texts was composed in the ofBce of the Southern Viceroy. 

142 ASOKA 

must be spoken. These are the virtues of the Law of 
Piety which must be practised. Similarly, the teacher 
must be reverenced by the pupil, and proper courtesy 
must be shown to relations. 

This is the ancient standard of piety — this leads to 
length of days, and according to this men must act. 

(Written by Pada the scribe '.) 

(4) The Bhabra Edict 

(Probably eighteenth year of the reign) 


King Piyadasi sends greeting to the Magadhan 
clergy^ and wishes them prosperity and good health : — 

Ye know. Reverend Sirs, how great is my respect for 
and devotion to the Buddha, the Law, and the Assem- 
bly of the Clergy ^. 

Reverend Sirs, all that has been said by the 
Venerable Buddha has been well said, and yet, 
Reverend Sirs, so far as I may give instructions 

' The scribe's signature is in the Aramaic character, written 
from right to left, now generally known by the name of Kha- 

^ ' Magadhan,' mdgadhaih, ' of Magadha,' or Bihar. As 
M. Senart suggests, the word here is probably equivalent to 
' Buddhist,' Magadha having been the birthplace of Buddhism. 
The assertion sometimes made that this edict is addressed to 
the Council said to have been held at Pataliputra is not war- 
ranted by evidence. 

^ The famous Buddhist Triad, or triratna. ' The Law,' dharh- 
masi, means here the whole body of Buddhist doctrine, and not 
only those principles of practical piety whicli are expounded in 
the edicts addressed to the general public. 


on my own account, I venture to adduce the word of the 

Buddha, to wit, ' Thus the Good Law ^ will long endure.' 

Reverend Sirs, these passages of the Law, namely: — 

[i] 'The Exaltation of Discipline' (vinaya samu- 
ka&a) ; 

[a] ' The Supernatural Powers of the Aryas ' (aliya 
vasdni) ; 

3] ' Fears of what may happen ' {andgata bhaydni) ; 
4] ' The Song of the Hermit ' (Tnuni gdthd) ; 

'5] 'The Dialogue on the Hermit's Life' {moneya 
swie) ; 

[6] ' The Questioning of Upatishya ' (upatisapasine) ; 
and — 

[7] 'The Address to Rahula, beginning with the 
subject of Falsehood' (Idghulovdde musdvddam, ad- 
higichya) : — 

those passages of the Law^ were uttered by the 
Venerable Buddha; and I desire that many monks 
and nuns should frequently listen to these passages, 
and meditate upon them, and that the laity, male and 
female, should do the same. 

For this reason. Reverend Sirs, I have caused this 
to be written, so that people may know my wishes. 

^ ' The Good Law,' sadhamme, = saddharma. M. Senart adopts 
this rendering in his revised version in Ind. Ant. xx. 165 . Prof. 
E. Hardy has pointed out {J.B.A.S. for igoi.pp. 314, 577) that the 
saying about the Good Law is a quotation from the scriptures. 
' 'Passages,' paliyaydni (Rhys Davids). Out of the seven 
passages five have now been identified in the Nikaya portion of 
the scriptures, as follows : — 

No. 2. Digha, Sangati Sutta ; 
„ 3. Anguttara, iii. 105-108; 
„ 4. Sutta-Nipata, 206-220 ; 
,, 5. It., No. 67 = A, i. 272 ; 
,, 7. Majjhima, i. 414-420. 
(Rhys Davids in J.B.A.S. for 1898, p. 639; and 'Dialogues of 
the Buddha,' p. xiii.) 


The Cave and Pillar iNSCEiPTroNS 

{Thirteenth to twenty-eighth year of reign) 

(l) The Cave Inscriptions 

(Thirteenth and twentieth years of reign) 



Inscription A, or No. I : — 

' King Piyadasi, in the thirteenth year of his reign, 
bestowed this " banyan-tree cave " on the Ajivikas.' 

Inscription B, or No. II : — 

' King Piyadasi, in the thirteenth year of his reign, 
bestowed this cave in the Khalatika hill on the Ajivikas.' 

Inscription C, or No. Ill : — 

' King Piyadasi, in the twentieth year of his reign, 
[bestowed this cave . . .'] 

Although out of chronological order, the connected 
inscriptions of Asoka's grandson Dasaratha may be 
most conveniently noticed in this place. They are 
three in number (D, E, F), and record in identical 
terms the bestowal of three caves, severally named 

Plate II 



1. Devanapiyena piyadasina lajina visativasabhisitena 

2. atana agacha mahiyite hida budhe jate sakyamuniti 

3. sila vigadabhiclia kalapita silathabhecha usapapite 

4. hida bhagavam jateti lumminigamc ubalikekate 
5 athabhagiyecha 

Asoka's Inscription on the Rumsiindei Pillar 

From impression takt.''r by Dr. Fiihrer] 

[To face p. 145 


VahiyakS,, Gopika, and Vadathika, in the N%arjuni 
hill, by Dasaratha on the occasion of his accession, 
upon the Ajivikas. A translation of one will suffice. 

vahiyakA cave inscription (D) of 

This Vahiyaka Cave was bestowed by His Majesty 
Dasaratha, immediately after his accession, on the 
venerable Ajivikas, to be a dwelling-place for them, as 
long as sun and moon endure ^- 

(2) The Inscriptions of the Tardi Pillars 

(Twenty-first year of reign) 



His Majesty King Piyadasi, in the twenty -first year 
of his reign, having come in person, did reverence. 
Because here Buddha the Sakya ascetic was born, he 
had a stone horse made, and set up a stone pillar. 
Because here the Venerable One was bom, the village 
of Lummini has been made revenue-free, and has 
partaken of the King's bounty ^. 

^ The Ajivikas were a sect of Brahmanical ascetics, devoted to 
Narayana, a form of Vishnu, who occupy a veiy prominent place 
in the ancient history of Indian religions. Inscription No. Ill 
is too much damaged to admit of translation. The restoration 
in the Corpus is not trustworthy. I have used Buhler's fac- 
similes and transcripts in Ind. Ant. xx. 361. 

^ Every letter of this inscription is perfect, but some of the 
words have not been met with elsewhere, and have occasioned 
discussion. There seems to be little doubt that vigadabhi 


146 ASOKA 



His Majesty King Piyadasi in the fifteenth year of 
his reign enlarged for the second time the stilpa of 
Buddha Konakamana, and [in the twenty-first year] 
of his reign, having come in person, he did reverence, 
and set up [a stone pillar] ^» 

(3) The Seven Pillar Edicts 

{Twenty-seventh and twenty-eighth years of reign) 


Thus saith His Majesty King Piyadasi : — 

In the twenty-seventh year of my reign I caused 

this pious edict to be written. 

It is difficult to secure both this world and the next 

save by the utmost devotion to the Law of Piety, the 

means ' in the form of a horse.' Hiuen Tsiang records that the 
pillar had the statue of a horse on the summit. The suggestion 
has recently been made that vigaddbhi should be translated 'ass.' 
Athaihdgiye is best derived from artha, and literally rendered 
as 'sharer in wealth.' (See Epigr. Ind. \. 4; J.R.A.S., Jan. 
1898, p. 618.) 

' Konakamana — Pali Kon&gamana, Sanskrit KanaJcamuni. 
The inscription is imperfect, but may safely be referred to the 
same year as the Rummindei inscription, which it so closely 
resembles. The distance between the two pillars is now about 
thirteen miles, but the Nigliva pillar has been moved from its 
original position. (See Babu P. C. Mukherji's ' Report on Ex- 
plorations in the Nepalese Terai,' with Prefatory Note by 
Vincent A. Smith, in Repotis, Archaeol. Survey of India, Imperial 
Series, Calcutta, 1900.) 


utmost watchfulness, the utmost obedience, the utmost 
dread, the utmost energy. 

However, owing to my instructions, this yearning 
for and devotion to the Law of Piety have grown 
from day to day, and will continue to grow. 

My agents too, whether of high, low, or middle 
rank, themselves conform to my teaching, and lead the 
people in the right way, being in a position to recall to 
duty the fickle-minded, as likewise are the wardens of 
the marches. 

For this is the rule — protection according to the Law 
of Piety, regulation by that law, felicity by that law, 
and security by that law ^ 



Thus saith His Majesty King Piyadasi : — 

The Law of Piety is excellent. 

But what is the Law of Piety ? 

It requires innocuousness, many good deeds, com- 
passion, truthfulness, purity. 

The gift of spiritual insight I have given in mani- 
fold ways^; whilst on two-footed and four-footed 
beings, on birds, and on the denizens of the waters 
have conferred many benefactions — even unto the boon 
of life ; and many other good deeds have I done ^- 

' I have followed M. Senart {Ind. Ant. xvii. 304) in interpret- 
ing this edict as being primarily addressed to the officials. 

^ ' The gift of spiritual insight,' chahhu-ddne. ' The metapho- 
rical use of chakhu, in Sanskrit chakshus, " eye," for " spiritual 
insight or knowledge," is common with all Hindu sects, Piya- 
dasi alludes here to the dhammasdvandni and dhammdnusathini, 
" sermons on, and instruction in, the sacred law,'' of which he 
speaks more fully below (vii. 2, 1. i) : compare also dhammad&ne 
(Eock Edict XI and the note to the latter passage).' Buhler in 
Ep. Ind. ii. 250. 

' This phrase occurs also in Eock Edict V. 
K a 

148 ASOKA 

For this purpose I have caused this pious edict to 
be written, that men may walk after its teaching, and 
that it may long endure ; and he who will follow its 
teaching will do well. 



Thus saith His Majesty King Piyadasi : — 

Man sees his every good deed, and says, ' This good 
deed have I done.' * 

In no wise does he see his evil deed and say, ' This 
evil deed, this thing in the nature of sin, have I done.' 

Difficult, verily, is the needful ^ self-examination. 

Nevertheless, a man should see to this, that rage, 
cruelty, anger, pride, and jealousy are in the nature of 
sin, and should say, ' Let me not by reason of these 
things bring about my fall.' 

This is chiefly to be seen to — ' The one course avails 
me for the present world, the other course avails me 
at any rate for the world to come '''.' 



Thus saith His Majesty King Piyadasi : — 
In the twenty-seventh year of my reign I caused 
this pious edict to be written. 

> ' The needful,' esd ; literally ' this.' 

'The text is absolutely certain, and the emendations sug- 
gested by M. Senart are inadmissible. I have followed Buhler, 
{Ep. Ind. ii. 251). 'The one course,' giving way to the passions ; 
'the other course,' restraining the passions by the aid of self- 

' ' Commissioners,' lajukd (rajjxilcA), high officers intermediate 
in rank between the governors and the district officers (pra- 


Commissioners have been appointed by me to rule 
over many hundred thousand persons of the people, 
and to them I have granted independence in the award 
of honours and penalties ^ in order that they may in 
security and without fear perform their duties, and 
bestow welfare and happiness on the people of the 
country, and confer benefits upon them. 

.The commissioners will ascertain the causes of 
happiness and unhappiness, and will, in accordance 
with the Law of Piety, exhort the people of the 
country so that they may gain both this world and 
the next. 

My commissioners are eager to serve me, and my 
agents^, knowing my will, are likewise ready to 
serve me, and will, when necessary, give exhortations, 
whereby the commissioners will be zealous to win my 

For, as a man feels secure after making over his 
child to a skilful nurse, and says to himself, ' The 
skilful nurse is devoted to. the care of my child,' even 
so have I appointed commissioners for the welfare 
and happiness of the country ; and, in order that they 
may with fearlessness, security, and confidence per- 
form their duties, I have granted to the commissioners 
independence in the award of honours and penalties. 

Forasmuch as it is desirable that uniformity should 
exist in administration and in penal procedure ^ my 
order extends so far, namely: 'To prisoners con- 

' Biihler's interpretation. 

'^ • Agents,' yM^is^jij, Skr. ^wntsWi^, literally ' men ' ; probably 
the pativedakd of Rock Edict VI, and the inia-Koiroi of Mega- 

' 1 connect this clause with the order following ; samatd can 
then be given its usual meaning of ' uniformity,' and the 
connexion of the whole passage becomes cle^r. With this 
exception, I follow Biihler. The uniformity enforced is merely 
in the respite granted to condemned criminals, not a general 
uniformity of penal procedure. 


victed and sentenced to death a respite of three days 
is granted by me.' During this interval the relatives 
of some at least of the condemned men will invite them 
to deep meditation, hoping to save their lives, or, if 
that may not be, they will present votive offerings 
and undergo fasts to promote the pious meditations 
of those about to die ^. 

For my desire is that the condemned, even during 
their imprisonment, may gain the next world, and 
that among the people pious practices of various 
kinds may grow, along with self-restraint and 
generous liberality. 



Thus saith His Majesty King Piyadasi : — 
In the twenty-seventh year of my reign the 
following animals were exempted from slaughter, 
namely : — 

Parrots, starlings, (1) adjutants {aruna), Brahmani 
ducks, geese, nandimuJchas, gelcUas, (?) flying foxes 
(jatukas), queen-ants ^ terrapins (i.e. small tortoises), 
(■?) prawns, vedavayakas, gangdpuputahas, skate, 
tortoises, porcupines, (?) squirrels [pamnasasa), 
{!:) bdrasingka stags {srimara), dedicated bulls 3, 
(?) lizards {okapinda), rhinoceros, grey doves, village 
pigeons, and all fourfooted animals which are not 
eaten or otherwise utilized by man. 

1 The translation liaa been amplified a little in order to bring 
out the meaning clearly. 

'' The queen-ant is eaten as an aphrodisiac. 

' 'Dedicated bulls,' the familiar 'Brahmanee bulls,' which 
have been dedicated in pursuance of vows, and wander unchecked 
over the fields. The slaughter of one of these animals gives 
great offence to Hindoos. 


She-goats, ewes, and sows, whether with young or 
in milk, must not be slaughtered, nor may their young, 
up to six months of age. 

Caponing cocks is forbidden. 

Chaff containing living things must not be burned ^ 

Forests must not be burned, either for mischief, or 
to injure living creatures ^. 

The living must not be fed with the living'. At 
each of the three seasonal full moons, and at the full 
moon of the month Tishya (December-January), for 
three days in each case, namely, the fourteenth and 
fifteenth days of the first fortnight, and the first days 
of the second fortnight, as well as on the fast days 
throughout the year, fish may neither be killed nor 

On the same days, no other animals living in 
elephant-preserves or fish-ponds may be destroyed. 

On the eighth, the fourteenth, and the fifteenth day 
of each fortnight, as well as on the Tishya and Punar- 
vasu days, on the seasonal full-moon days, and on the 
days of popular festivals, bulls, he-goats, rams, and 
boars may not be castrated; nor may any other 
animal which is commonly castrated be castrated on 
those days. 

On the Tishya and Punarvasu days, on the seasonal 
full-moon days, and during the full-moon fortnights, 
the branding of horses and oxen is forbidden *- 

^ Chaff on a thresUng-floor is sometimes burned in order to 
destroy vermin. 

^ A forest is sometimes fired wantonly, sometimes in order to 
promote the growth of grass, and sometimes to drive out game. 

' As hawks with the blood of living pigeons, a cruel practice 
still in vogue. 

* In ancient India the year was divided into three seasons, 
the hot, rainy, and cold. The three full moons referred to are 
probably those of the months PMlguna (Peb.-March), AshAdha 
(June-July), Kdrttika (Oct.-Nov.). 'Tishya and Punarvasu 
days ' mean the days of the month on which the moon is, or is 

152 ASOKA 

In the period extending up to my twenty-sixth 
coronation day I have twenty -five times liberated the 
prisoners ^- 



Thus saith His Majesty King Piyadasi : — 

In the thirteenth year of my reign I had pious 
edicts written to promote the welfare and happiness 
of the people^, with the intent that the people, 
rejecting their old vices ^, might attain unto growth 
in piety. 

Thus, aiming at the welfare and happiness of the 
people,. I devote my attention to those far and near as 
much as to my own relatives, if haply I may guide 
some of them to happiness. 

In the same way I devote my attention to all com- 
munities *. All sects have been reverenced by me with 

supposed to be, in the asterism or constellation (naJcshatra) so- 
named. In each month there were four fast-days. The num- 
ber of days in the year on which the killing and sale of fish 
was forbidden amounted to fifty-six. (See full discussion by 
Buhler in ^Ip- ■^'"^- ii- 261-265 ; and Kern, Manual of Indian 
Buddhism, p. 99.) 

^ Literally ' made twenty-five jail deliveries.' The king means 
that on each anniversary of his coronation he published a 
general pardon of all convicts, most of whom must have been 
awaiting execution. 

^ ' Pious edicts,' that is to say the Rock Edicts, among which 
Nos. Ill and IV are expressly dated in the thirteenth year. 

^ 'Rejecting their old vices,' a paraphrase of tarn apahata, in 
accordance with Biihler's view. M. Senart renders ' carrying away 
something,' that is to say, from the teaching of the Rock Edicts. 

' ' All communities,' savaniUyesu. The renderings ' corpora- 
tions ' (Buhler) and 'the whole body of my ofiicers' (Senart) 
are both too definite. Compare Rock Edict XIII, ' For there is 


various forms of reverence ^. Nevertheless, personal 
adherence to a man's particular creed seems to me the 
chief thing ^. 

In the twenty-seventh year of my reign this pious 
edict was written by my command. 



Thus saith His Majesty King Piyadasi : — 
The kings who lived in past times desired that man 
might somehow develop the growth of the Law of 
Piety. Mankind, however, did not develop the growth 
of the Law of Piety according to expectation. 

Therefore, thus saith His Majesty King Piyadasi : — 

This thought occurred to me : — The kings who lived 

in past times desired that mankind might somehow 

develop the growth of the Law of Piety, but mankind 

no country in whioli are not found such communities {nikdyd), 
including others besides Brahmans and ascetics.' 

■^ Compare the opening sentence of Rock Edict XII. 

^ 'Personal adherence to a man's particular creed,' atund 
pacht'ipagamane (Senart). This interpretation seems preferable 
to that of Biihler, ' the approach through one's own free -will,' 
that is to say ' the voluntary approach which one sect is to 
make towards the other,' as recommended in Rock Edict XII. 

' In the older editions erroneously treated as two edicts, Nos. 
VII and VIII. 

* This important edict, which is a key to and commentary 
on the whole of the Piyadasi inscriptions, comprises a preamble, 
the recital of eight measures taken to promote piety, and an 
epilogue. The eight measures are (i) sermons; (2) inscribed 
pillars ; (3) arrangements for comfort of man and beast ; (4) 
institution of censors ; (5) institution of Royal Almoner's de- 
partment ; (6) the king's personal example ; (7) detailed pious 
regulations ; (8) encouragement of meditation on principles. 

154 ASOKA 

did not develop the growth of the Law of Piety 
according to expectation. By what means then can 
mankind be induced to obey? by what means can 
mankind develop the growth of piety according to 
expectation? by what means can I raise up at least 
some of them so as to develop the growth of piety ? 

Therefore, thus saith His Majesty King Piyadasi : — 

This thought occurred to me : — I will cause sermons 
on the Law of Piety to be preached, and with in- 
structions in that law will I instruct, so that men 
hearkening thereto may obey, raise themselves up, 
and greatly develop the growth of piety. 

For this my purpose I have caused sermons on the 
Law of Piety to be preached, I have disseminated 
various instructions on that law, and I have appointed 
agents ^ among the multitude to expound and develop 
my teaching. 

Commissioners ^ have been appointed by me over 
many thousands of souls, with instructions to expound 
my teaching in such and such a manner among the 

Thus saith His Majesty Piyadasi^: — 

Considering further the same purpose, I have set up 
pillars of the Law, I have appointed censors of the 
Law *, and preached sermons on the Law of Piety. 

Thus saith His Majesty King Piyadasi : — 

On the roads I have had banyan-trees planted to 
give shade to man and beast; I have had groves 
of mango-trees planted; at every half kos I have 
had wells dug ; rest-houses have been erected ; and 
numerous watering-places have been prepared here 
and there for the enjoyment of man and beast ^- 

' 'Agents,' pulisd. See note 2, p. 149 above. 

* ' Commissioners,' lajuha. See note 3, p. 148 above. 
^ Note omission of the word ' King.' 

* ' Censors of the Law,' dhathmamuhCim&tiX. 

" Refers to Rook Edict II. See notes i and 2, p. 80 above. 


That so-called enjoyment, however, is a small 

With various blessings have former kings blessed 
the world even as I have done, but in my case it has 
been done solely with the intent that men may yield 
obedience to the Law of Piety. 

Thus saith His Majesty Piyadasi : — 

My censors of the Law of Piety are occupied with 
various charitable institutions, with ascetics, house- 
holders, and all the sects ; I have also arranged that 
they should be occupied with the affairs of the 
Buddhist clergy, as well as with the Brahmans, 
the Jains, the Ajivikas, and, in fact, with all the 
various sects '. 

The several ordinary magistrates shall severally 
superintend their particular charges, whereas the 
censors of the Law of Piety shall superintend all sects 
as well as such special charges. 

Thus saith His Majesty King Piyadasi : — 

These and many other high officials are employed 
in the distribution of the royal alms, both my own 
and those of the queens ^ ; and in all the royal 
households both at the capital and in the provinces 
these officials indicate in divers ways the manifold 
opportunities for charity ^. 

The same officials are also employed by me in the 
distribution of the alms of my wives' sons and of the 

' Refera to Rock Edict V. Compare Rock Edict XII. Some 
of the verbiage in the original has been omitted in the trans- 

^ See the Queen's "Hdlot, post, p. 157. 

' ' I here follow Professor Kern, Der Buddhismus, vol. ii, 
p. 386, who takes tuthAyatan&ni, i.e. tuahtydyatanAni, "sources 
of contentment," in the sense of " opportunities for charity." 
Such opportunities are to be pointed out to all the inmates 
of the King's harem' (Biihler, Ep. Ind. ii. 274). I translate 
olodhanasi, 'household,' rather than 'harem,' because the 
seclusion of women was not the custom of ancient India. 

156 ASOKA 

queens' sons ', in order to promote pious acts and 
the practice of piety. For pious acts and the prac- 
tice of piety depend on the growth among men of 
compassion, Hberality, truth, purity, gentleness, and 

Thus saith His Majesty King Piyadasi : — 
Whatsoever meritorious deeds I have done, those 
deeds the people have copied and will imitate, whence 
follows the consequence that growth is now taking 
place and will further increase in the virtues of 
obedience to father and mother, obedience to teachers, 
reverence to the aged, and kindly treatment of Brah- 
mans and ascetics, of the poor and wretched, yea, 
even of slaves and servants ^. 

Thus saith His Majesty King Piyadasi : — 
.This growth of piety among men has been effected 
by two means, namely, by pious regulations and by 
meditation. Of these two means pious regulations are 
of small account, whereas meditation is of greater 

Nevertheless, I have passed pious regulations for- 
bidding the slaughter of such and such animals, and 
other regulations of the sort. But the effect of medi- 
tation is seen in the greater growth of piety among 
men, and the more complete abstention from injury to 
animate creatures and from slaughter of living beings ^. 
This proclamation has been made with the intent 
that it may endure as long as my descendants * continue 
and sun and moon exist*, and that men may practise 

' The distinction intended, I think, is between the sons of 
the queens-consort and those of the inferior wives. See note, 
p. 157. Buhler supposes that the queens alluded to are the 
wives of the king's predecessors. 

2 See Rock Edicts IV, IX, XI ; Pillar Edict II. 

» Refers to Rock Edict I ; Pillar Edict V. See also Rock 
Edict IX. 

• ' Descendants,' literally ' sons and great-grandsons.' 

^ Compare the inscriptions of Dasaratha. 


my teaching. By the practice of this teaching the 
gain is secured both of the present world and of the 
world to come. 

In the twenty-eighth year of my reign I ordered 
this pious edict to be written. 

Concerning this, thus saith His Majesty: Where- 
soever stone pillars or stone tablets exist, there let 
this edict be inscribed, so that it may long endure. 

(4) The Supplementary Pillar Edicts 

{Twenty-eighth year of reign or later) 


By command of His Majesty the officials every- 
where are to be instructed that — 

Whatever donation has been made by the second 
queen, be it a mango-grove, pleasure-garden, chari- 
table hostel, or aught else, is to be accounted as the act 
of that queen. These things are [? all to gain merit 
for] the second queen, Kariivaki, the mother of Tivara 1. 



This document, which is found, like the Queen's 

Edict, on the Allahabad pillar, is too imperfect to 

' This edict, edited by Biihler in Ind. Ant. xix. 125, is perfect, 
except for five or six characters expressing the purpose. I have 
supplied a conjectural interpretation. The document is of 
interest in several respects. It proves that Asoka had at least 
two consorts who ranked as queens (devt), that the second of 
these ladies was named K3,ruvaki (Kaluvaki), and that the king 
had a son by her named Tivara (Tivala). It is possible to read 
the son's name as Titivala. The inscription is in the Magadhi 
dialect, which replaces Sanskrit medial r by I. 

158 ASOKA 

admit of continuous translation. Part of it is re- 
produced in the equally defaced inscription on the 
Sanchi pillar, which seems to record the donation 
of a road or procession path to a monastery^ 

' Biihler, Ind. Ant. xix. 124, 126 ; Epigr. Ind. ii. 366. 


The Cetlonese Legend op Asoka 

The legends related in this chapter and in that 
following are related simply as legends, without 
criticism, or discussion of their historical valued 


Kftlasoka, king of Magadha, had ten sons, who 
after his death ruled the kingdom righteously for 
twenty-two years. They were succeeded by other 
nine brothers, the Nandas, who likewise, in order of 
seniority, ruled the kingdom for twenty-two years *- 

' The legends told in this chapter have been compiled by 
combining the narratives of the Dipavatiisa and the Mahfi,vamsa, 
which may fairly be combined, both being derived from the 
traditions preserved at the MahavihS,ra monastery. Wijesinha's 
revised edition of Tumour's translation of the Mahavamsa 
(Colombo, Government Record OflSce, 1889) has been used. 
His corrections of Tumour's version are material. For the 
Dipavaihsa, Oldenberg's edition and translation have been used. 
The indexes to Tumour's Mahavamsa and Oldenberg's Dipa- 
vamsa make easy the verification of particular statements. 
Another summary of the legends 'will be found in Hardy's 
Eastern Monachism. 

^ Tumour omits the words 'the Nandas.' The Dipavaihsa 
substitutes Susunaga for Kalasoka, makes Asoka to be the son 
of Susunaga, and omits all mention of the nine Nanda brothers, 
and their reign of twenty-two years (Dip. v. 25, 97-99). These 
discrepancies prove the untrustworthiness of the chronicles. 

i6o ASOKA 

A Brahman named Chanakya, who had conceived 
an implacable hatred against Dhana Nanda, the last 
survivor of the nine brothers, put that king to death, 
and placed upon the throne Chandra Gupta, a member 
of the princely Maurya clan, who assumed the 
sovereignty of all India, and reigned gloriously for 
twenty-four years ^. He was succeeded by his son 
Bindusara, who ruled the land for twenty-eight years. 

The sons of Bindusara, the offspring of sixteen 
mothers, numbered one hundred and one, of whom 
the eldest was named Sumana, and the youngest 
Tishya (Tissa). A third son, Asoka, uterine brother 
of Tishya, had been appointed Viceroy of Western 
India by his father. On receiving news of King 
Bindusara's mortal illness, Asoka quitted Ujjain, the 
seat of his government, and hastened to Pataliputra 
(Patna), the capital of the empire. On his arrival at 
the capital, he slew his eldest brother Sumana, and 
ninety-eight other brothers, saving alive but one, 
Tishya, the youngest of all. Having thus secured 
his throne, Asoka became lord of all India, but by 
reason of the massacre of his brothers he was known 
as Asoka the Wicked. 

Now it so happened that when Prince Sumana was 
slain, his wife was with child. She fled from the 
slaughter, and was obliged to seek shelter in a village 

' Not 'thirty-four years,' as given both by Tumour and 
Wijesinha. The figure 34 is a copyist's blunder ; see com- 
mentary quoted by Turnour, p. lii (Rhys Davids, Ancient Coins 
and Measures of Ceylon, p. 41, note). 


of outcastes beyond the eastern gate. The headman of 
the outcastes, pitying her misery, entreated her kindly, 
and, doing her reverence, served her faithfully for 
seven years. Pn that very day on which she was 
driven forth from the palace she gave birth to a boy, 
on whom the name Nigrodha was bestowed. The 
child was born with the marks of sanctity, and when 
he attained the age of seven was already an ordained 

The holy child, whose royal origin was not known, 
happened one day to pass by the palace, and attracted 
the attention of the king, who was struck by his grave 
and reverend deportment. King Asoka, highly de- 
lighted, sent for the boy, who drew near with decorum 
and self-possession. 

The king said, ' My child, take any seat which thou 
thinkest befitting.' Nigrodha, seeing that no priest 
other than himself was present, advanced towards the 
royal throne as the befitting seat. Whereupon King 
Asoka, understanding that this monk was destined to 
become lord of the palace, gave the boy his arm, and 
seating him upon the throne, refreshed him with meat 
and drink prepared for his own royal use. 

Having thus shown his respect, the king questioned 
the boy monk concerning the doctrines of Buddha, and 
received from him an exposition of the doctrine of 
earnestness, to the efiect that ' earnestness is the way 
to immortality, indifference is the way to death.' This 
teaching so wrought upon the heart of the king, that 
he at once accepted the religion of Buddha, and gave 


1 62 ASOKA 

gifts to the priesthood. The next day Nigrodha 
returned to the palace with thirty-two priests, and, 
by preaching the law, established king and people in 
the faith and the practice of piety. In this manner 
was King Asoka constrained to abandon the Brahman- 
ical faith of his father, and to accept as a lay disciple 
the sacred law of Buddha. 

These things happened in the fourth year after 
the accession of King Asoka, who in the same 
year celebrated his solemn coronation, and appointed 
his younger brother Tishya to be his deputy or vice- 

The sixty thousand Brahmans, who for three years 
had daily enjoyed the bounty of Asoka, as they had 
enjoyed that of his predecessors on the throne, were 
dismissed, and in their place Buddhist monks in equal 
numbers were constantly entertained at the palace, 
and treated with such lavish generosity that four 
lakhs of treasure were each day expended. One day, 
the king, having feasted the monks at the palace, 
inquired the number of the sections of the law, and 
having learned that the sections of the law were 
eighty-four thousand in number, he resolved to 
dedicate a sacred edifice to each. Wherefore, the 
king commanded the local rulers to erect eighty-four 
thousand sacred edifices in as many towns of India, 
and himself constructed the Asokarama at the capital. 
All the edifices were completed within three years, 
and in a single day the news of their completion 
reached the Court. By means of the supernatural 


powers with which he was gifted, King Asoka was 
enabled to behold at one glance all these works 
throughout the empire. 

From the time of his consecration as emperor of 
India, two hundred and eighteen years after the death 
of the perfect Buddha, the miraculous faculties of 
royal majesty entered into King Asoka, and the glory 
which he obtained by his merit extended a league 
above and a league below the earth. 

The denizens of heaven were his servants, and daily 
brought for his use water from the holy lake, lus- 
cious, fragrant fruits, and other good things beyond 
measure and without stint. 

The king, lamenting that he had been born too late 
to behold the Buddha in the flesh, besought the aid of 
the Snake-King, who caused to appear a most enchant- 
ing image of Buddha, in the full perfection of beauty, 
surrounded by a halo of glory, and surmounted by the 
lambent flame of sanctity, in honour of which glorious 
vision a magnificent festival was held for the space of 
seven days. 


While Asoka during his royal father's lifetime was 
stationed at Ujjain as viceroy of the Avanti country, 
he formed a connexion with a lady of the Setthi caste, 
named Devi, who resided at Vedisagiri (Besnagar 
near Bhilsa) ^. She accompanied the prince to Ujjain, 
1 Tumour's text reads ' Chetiyagiri.' 
L a 

i64 ASOKA 

and there bore to him a son named Mahendra, two 
hundred and four years after the death of Buddha ^. 
Two years later a daughter named Sanghamitra was 
bom. Devi continued to reside at Vedisagiri after 
Asoka seized the throne; but the children accom- 
panied their father to the capital, where Sanghamitra 
was given in marriage to Agni Brahma, nephew of the 
king, to whom she bore a son named Sumana. 

In the fourth year after King Asoka's coronation, 
his brother Tishya, the vicegerent, his nephew Agni 
Brahma, and his grandson Sumana were all ordained. 
The king, who had received the news of the comple- 
tion of the eighty-four thousand sacred edifices, held a 
solemn assembly of millions of monks and nuns, and, 
coming in full state in person, took up his station in 
the midst of the priesthood. The king's piety had 
by this time washed away the stain of fratricide, and 
he who had been known as Asoka the Wicked, was 
henceforth celebrated as Asoka the Pious. 

After his brother Tishya had devoted himself to 
religion, Asoka proposed to replace him in the office 
of vicegerent by Prince Mahendra, but at the urgent 
entreaty of his spiritual director, Tishya son of 
Moggali (Mudgalya), the king was persuaded to permit 
of the ordination both of Mahendra and his sister 
Sanghamitra. The young prince had then attained 
the canonical age of twenty, and was therefore at 
once ordained. The princess assumed the yellow robe, 
but was obliged to defer her admission to the Order 
* This date is given by the Dipavariisa, vi. 20, 21. 


for two years, until she should attain full age. 
Mahendra was ordained in the sixth year of the king's 
reign, dating from his coronation. 

In the eighth year of the reign, two saints, named 
respectively Sumitra and Tishya, died. Their death 
was attended with such portents that the world at 
large became greatly devoted to the Buddhist religion, 
and the liberality of the people to the priests was 
multiplied. The profits so obtained attracted to the 
Order many unworthy members, who set up their own 
doctrines as the doctrines of Buddha, and per- 
formed unlawful rites and ceremonies, even sacrifices 
after the manner of the Brahmans, as seemed good 
unto them. Hence was wrought confusion both in 
the doctrine and ritual of the Church. 

The disorders waxed so great that the heretics out- 
numbered the true believers, the regular rites of the 
church were in abeyance for seven years, and the 
king's spiritual director, Tishya son of Moggali, 
was obliged to commit his disciples to the care of 
Prince Mahendra, and himself to retire into solitude 
among the mountains at the source of the Ganges. 

Tishya, the son of Moggali, having been persuaded 
to quit his retreat, expelled the heretics, produced the 
Kathavatthu treatise, and held the Third Council of 
the Church at the Asokdrama in Pataliputra. These 
events happened in the year 336 after the death of 
Buddha, and seventeen and a half years after the 
coronation of King Asoka. 

In the same year King Devdnampiya Tissa (Tishya) 

i66 ASOKA 

ascended the throne of Ceylon, and became the firm 
friend and ally of King Asoka, although the two 
sovereigns never met. The King of Ceylon, in order 
to show his friendship and respect, dispatched a 
mission to India, headed by his nephew, Maha Arittha. 
In seven days the envoys reached the port of Tamalipti 
(Tamliik in Bengal), and in seven days more arrived 
at the Imperial Court. They were royally entertained 
by King Asoka, who was graciously pleased to accept 
the rich and rare presents sent by his ally, in return 
for which he sent gifts of equal value. The envoys 
remained at the capital for five months, and then 
returned to the island by the way they had come, 
bearing to their sovereign this message from King 
Asoka : ' I have taken refuge in the Buddha, the 
Law, and the Order; I have avowed myself a lay 
disciple of the doctrine of the son of the Sakyas. 
Imbue your mind also with faith in this Triad, in 
the highest religion of the Jina; take refuge in the 

After the close of the Third Council, which remained 
in session for nine months, Tishya the son of Moggali 
resolved that the law of Buddha should be communi- 
cated to foreign countries, and dispatched missionaries 
to Kashmir and Gandh&ra; to Mahisamandala (My- 
sore) ; to Vanavasi (North Kanara) ; to Aparantaka 
(coast north of Bombay) ; to Maharashtra ; to the 
Yavana country (on the north-western frontier) ; to 
the mountain regions of the Himalaya; to Suvarna- 
bhumi (Pegu) ; and to Ceylon. 


The mission to Ceylon consisted of Prince Mahendra 
and five colleagues, of whom one was Sumana, his 
sister's son. 

Mahendra resolved, with the king's permission, to 
visit his mother and her relations on his way to 
Ceylon, and devoted six months to this purpose. 

He found his mother at her home in Vedisagiri, 
and, having been received with great joy, was ac- 
commodated in the splendid monastery at that place 
which she had erected ^. The preaching of Mahendra 
converted Bhandu, a grandnephew of his mother. 
After this event Mahendra lingered for another month, 
and then with his companions, to whom Bhandu 
attached himself, rose aloft into the air, and flying, 
' as flies the king of swans,' arrived in Ceylon, and 
alighted upon the Missa mountain. 

The first discourse pronounced by the leader of 
the mission converted the king, with forty thousand 
of his followers. The princess Anula, with five 
hundred of her attendants, desired to enter the Order, 
but was told that the male missionaries had no power 
to ordain females, who, however, might be ordained by 
the princess Sanghamitr^. 

The king of Ceylon, after due deliberation, again 
dispatched his nephew to King Asoka, with instruc- 
tions to bring back Sanghamitra and a branch of the 
sacred &o-tree. King Asoka, although grieving sorely 
at the separation from his beloved daughter, gave his 

^ The allusion seems to be to the splendid buildings at Sanchi, 
about five miles south-west from Besnagar. 

i68 ASOKA 

coBsent to her deputation to Ceylon, and proceeded 
with much ceremony to sever a branch of the holy 

The severance was effected, signalized by many 
miracles, and the envoys, accompanied by Sanghamitra, 
were dispatched to the port of Tamalipti, escorted by 
an army commanded by King Asoka in person. 

' The vessel in which the 6o-tree was embarked 
briskly dashed through the water ; and in the great 
ocean, through the circumference of a league, the 
waves were stilled ; flowers of the five different colours 
blossomed around it, and various melodies of music 
rang in the air.' The holy branch, thus miraculously 
wafted to the shore of the island, was received with 
due honour, and was planted in the Mahamegha garden, 
which the king had dedicated to the use of the Order. 
The branch threw off eight vigorous shoots, which 
were distributed and planted in as many localities. 

In those days also the king of Ceylon built for 
Mahendra the Mahavihara, the first monastery of the 
island, and the construction of the Chetiyagiri (Mihin- 
taM) monastery followed soon after. 

The princess Anula, in company with five hundred 
virgins and five hundred women of the palace, was 
duly ordained as a nun by Sanghamitra, and straight- 
way attained the rank of Arhat. The king erected 
a nunnery for Sanghamitra, who there abode in peace, 
until she died in the fifty-ninth year after her 
ordination, that being the ninth year of the reign of 
the Ceylonese King Uttiya. Her brother Mahendra 


had passed away in the previous year, while observing 
the sixtieth ' retreat ' since his ordination. 

While King Asoka was engaged in the festivals 
connected with the dispatch of the branch of the ho- 
tree, another mission, headed by his grandson Sumana, 
arrived from Ceylon to beg for relics to be enshrined 
in the great stUpa by the island king. The request 
of this second mission also was granted by King 
Asoka, who bestowed upon his ally a dishful of holy 
relics, to which Sakra, lord of the Devas, added the 
right collar-bone of Buddha, extracted from the 
Chulamani sMpa. The relics were received with 
extreme honour, and enshrined with due ceremony in 
the Thftparama stfUpa, the moment being marked by 
a terrific earthquake. Witnessing this miracle, the 
people were converted in crowds, and the king's 
younger brother joined the Order, which in those 
days received an accession of thirty thousand monks. 


When, as has been related, the heretics waxed 
great in numbers and wrought confusion in the 
Church, so that for seven years the rite of confession 
and other solemn rites remained in abeyance, King 

^ See especially Dipavamsa, i. 25 ; v. 55 ; vii. 37, 41, 56-59. 
The dates do not seem all to agree, but the intention evidently 
is to place the Third Council in 236, and the Second Council in 
118 Anno Buddhae, the two intervals of 118 years being exactly 
equal. One of the Chinese dates for Asoka is 118 a. b. (I-tsing, 
ed. Takakusu, p. 14). 

170 ASOKA 

Asoka determined that the disorder should cease, and 
sent a minister to the Asokarama to compel the 
monks to resume the services. The minister, having 
gone there, assembled the monks and proclaimed the 
royal commands. The holy men replied that they 
could not perform the services while the heretics 
remained. Thereupon the minister, exceeding his 
instructions, with his own hand smote off the heads 
of several of the contumacious ecclesiastics as they 
sat in convocation. The king's brother Tishya inter- 
fered, and prevented further violence. 

The king was profoundly horrified and greatly 
alarmed at the rash act of his minister, and sought ab- 
solution. In accordance with, the advice of the clergy, 
the aged Tishya, son of Moggali, was summoned from 
his distant retreat, and conveyed by boat down the 
Ganges to the capital, where he was received by the 
king with extraordinary honour and reverence. 

Asoka, desiring to test the supernatural powers of 
the saint, begged that a miracle might be performed, 
and specially requested that an earthquake confined 
to a limited space might be produced. The saint 
placed a chariot, a horse, a man, and a vessel filled 
with water, one on each side of a square space, exactly 
on the boundary lines, and produced an earthquake 
which caused the half of each object within the 
boundary line to quake, while the other half of each 
remained unshaken. Satisfied by this display of 
power, Asoka inquired if the sacrilegious murder of 
the priests by the minister must be accounted as the 


king's sin. The saint ruled that where there is no 
wilful intention, there is no sin, and, accordingly, 
absolved Asoka, whom he instructed fully in the 

The king commanded that all the priests in India, 
without exception, should be assembled, and taking his 
seat by the side of his spiritual director, examined 
each priest individually as to his faith. The saint 
decided that the doctrine of the Vaib^dhyavadina 
school was the true primitive teaching of the master, 
and all dissenters were expelled, to the number of 
sixty thousand 1. A thousand orthodox priests of 
holy character were then selected to form a convoca- 
tion or Council. To these assembled priests, Tishya, 
son of Moggali, recited the treatise called Kathavatthu 
in order to dissipate doubts on points of faith ^. The 
Council, following the procedure of the First Council 
at Rajagriha and the Second Council at Vaisdli, recited 

' Mahavaiiisa, ch. v. The classifications of the Buddhist 
schools vary much. I-tsing (pp. xxiii, 7) says that all Ceyloa 
belonged to the Arya-sthavira-nikaya, which had three subdivi- 
sions. Tibetan authorities (Rockhill, pp. 187 seqq.) make two 
main divisions of Buddhists, (i) Sihavira, (ii) MaMsanghika. 
The Sarvdstivddina school was a subdivision of the Sihavira, and 
the Vaibddhyavadina was a sect of the Sarvdstivddina. The 
Vaibddhya^dina sect again was subdivided into four sections, 
MaMs&saka, Dharmag^iptaha, Tamrasatiya,a,ndKdiyapiya. This 
explains how Fa-hien was able to obtain in Ceylon a copy of the 
Vinaya according to the MahtMsaka school (ch. xl). 

The legends have probably been much influenced by sectarian 

^ Tumour's translation is corrected by Wijesinha. 

172 ASOKA 

and verified the whole body of the scriptures, and, 
after a session lasting nine months, dispersed. At 
the conclusion of the Council the earth quaked, as if 
to say ' Well done,' beholding the re-establishment of 
religion. Tishya, the son of Moggali, was then 
seventy-two years of age. 


One day, Tishya, the younger brother of Asoka, 
and Vicegerent of the empire, happened to be in 
a forest, and watched a herd of elk at play. The 
thought occurred to him that when elks browsing in 
the forest divert themselves, there seems to be no 
good reason why monks well lodged and well fed in 
monasteries should not amuse themselves. Coming 
home, the vicegerent told his thoughts to the king, 
who, in order to make him understand the reason why, 
conferred upon him the sovereignty for the space of 
seven days, saying, ' Prince, govern the empire for 
seven days, at the end of which I shall put thee to 
death.' At the close of the seventh day the king 
asked the prince : — ' Why art thou grown so wasted ? ' 
He replied, ' By reason of the horror of death.' The 
king rejoined, 'Child, thou hast ceased to amuse thyself, 
because thou thinkest that in seven days thou wilt be 
put to death. These monks are meditating without 
ceasing on death; how then can they engage in 
frivolous diversions 1 ' ^ 

^ Compare the legend of Mahendra in chapter vii, t^osU 


The prince understood, and became a convert. 
Some time afterwards he was on a hunting expedition 
in the forest, when he saw the saint Mahadharmara- 
kshita, a man of perfect piety and freed from the 
bonds of sin, sitting under a tree, and being fanned 
with a branch by an elephant. The prince, beholding 
this sight, longed for the time when he might become 
even as that saint and dwell at peace in the forest. 
The saint, in order to incline the heart of the prince 
unto the faith, soared into the air and alighted on the 
surface of the water of the Asokllr^ma tank, wherein 
he bathed, while his robes remained poised in the air. 
The prince was so delighted with this miracle that he 
at once resolved to become a monk, and begged the 
king for permission to receive ordination. 

The king, being unwilling to thwart his pious 
desire, himself led the prince to the monastery, where 
ordination was conferred by the saint Mah§,dharma- 
rakshita. At the same time one hundred thousand 
other persons were ordained, and no man can tell 
the number of those who became monks by reason 
of the example set by the prince. 


The branch of the holy 60-tree, brought to Ceylon 
in the manner above related, was dispatched in the 
eighteenth year of the reign of Asoka the Pious, and 
planted in the Mah^meghavana garden in Ceylon. 

In the twelfth year after that event, Asandhimitra, 

174 ASOKA 

the beloved queen of Asoka, who had shared his de- 
votion to Buddhism, died. In the fourth year after 
her decease, the king, prompted by sensual passion, 
raised the princess Tishyarakshita to the dignity of 
queen-consort. She was young and vain, and very 
sensible of her personal charms. The king's devotion 
to the &o-tree seemed to her to be a slight to her 
attractions, and in the fourth year after her elevation 
her jealousy induced her to make an attempt to 
destroy the holy tree by art magic. The attempt 
failed. In the fourth year after that event. King 
Asoka the Pious fulfilled the lot of mortality, having 
reigned thirty-seven years ^. 

^ Compare the legend of the ' Dotage of Asoka ' in chapter 
vii, post. According to the Tibetan tradition, Asoka reigned 
for fifty-four years (Rockhill, p. 233). 


The Indian Legends of Asoka 

the lineage and family op asoka 

(i) King Bimbisara reigned at RSjagriha. His 
son was (a) Ajatasatru, whose son was (3) Udayi- 
bhadra, whose son was (4) Munda, whose son was 
(5) K§,kavamin, whose son was (6) Sahalin, whose son 
was (7) Tulakuchi, whose son was (8) Mahamandala, 
whose son was (9) Prasenajit, whose son was (10) 
Nanda, whose son was (11) Bindusara. 

King Bindusara reigned at PataHputra, and had 
a son named Susima. 

A certain Brahman of Champa had a lovely daughter. 
A prophecy declared that she was destined to be the 
mother of two sons, of whom one would become imi- 
versal monarch, and the other would attain the goal 
of the life of a recluse. The Brahman, seeking the ful- 
filment of the prophecy, succeeded in introducing his 
daughter into the palace, but the jealousy of the queens 
debarred her from the royal embraces, and assigned to 

' The genealogy as given in the text is from the prose AsoJcd- 
vaddna in the Divydvadana (Burnouf, Introduction, pp. 319 
seqq.). The reader will observe that Chandragupta is omitted, 
and that Bindus§,ra, the father of Asoka, is represented as being 
the son of Nanda. The metrical Asokdvaddna (Rajendralala 
Mitra, Nepalese Buddhist Literature, pp. 6-17) substitutes Mahl- 
pala for Ajatasatru, and exhibits other minor variations. 

176 ASOKA 

her the menial duties of a barber. After some time 
the girl managed to explain to the king that she was 
no barber, but the daughter of a Brahman. When 
the ^ing understood that she belonged to a caste with 
a member of which he could honourably consort, he at 
once took her into favour and made her chief queen. 
In due course, the Brahman's daughter, whose name 
was Subhadrangi, bore to the king two sons, the elder 
named Asoka, and the younger named Vigatasoka. 

The ascetic Pingala Vatsajiva, when consulted by 
King Bindusara concerning the destiny of the two 
boys, feared to tell his sovereign the truth, because 
Asoka was rough-looking and displeasing in the sight 
of his father; but he frankly told Queen Subha- 
drangi that her son Asoka was destined for the 

It came to pass that King Bindusara desired to 
besiege Taxila, which was in rebellion. The king 
ordered his despised son Asoka to undertake the siege, 
and yet would not supply him with chariots or the 
needful munitions of war. Ill-supplied as he was, the 
prince obediently started to carry out the king's 
orders, whereupon the earth opened, and from her 
bosom supplied all his wants. When Asoka with his 
army approached Taxila, the citizens came forth to 
meet him, protesting that their quarrel was only with 
oppressive ministers, not with the king or the king's 
son. Taxila and the kingdom of the Svasas made 
their submission to the prince, who in due course 
returned to the capital. 


It came to pass that one day Prince Susima, the 
king's eldest son, was coming into the palace from the 
garden when he playfully threw his glove at the head 
of the prime minister Khallataka. The minister, was 
deeply offended, and from that day engaged in a con- 
spiracy with five hundred privy councillors to exclude 
Susima, and to place Asoka on the throne. 

The people of Taxila again revolted, and Prince 
Susima, who was deputed to reduce them to obedi- 
ence, failed in his task. King Bindus^ra, who was 
then old and ill, desired to send Asoka to Taxila, 
and to recall Susima, that he might take up the suc- 

The ministers, however, continued to exclude the 
elder prince, and to secure the throne for Asoka, on 
whose head the gods themselves placed the crown, 
at the moment when his father expired. Susima 
marched against Pataliputra, to assert his rights 
and expel the usurper; but Asoka and his minister 
Radhagupta obtained the services of naked giants, 
who successfully guarded the gates, and by stratagem 
Susima was inveigled, so that he fell into a ditch full 
of burning fuel, and there miserably perished. 


One day, when five hundred of his ministers ven- 
tured to resist the royal will, Asoka, transported with 
rage, drew his sword, and with his own hand cut off 
the heads of all the offenders. 


178 ASOKA 

Another day, the women of the palace, whom Asoka's 
rough features failed to please, mocked him by break- 
ing off the leaves of an aaoka tree in the garden. 
The king, when he heard of the incident, caused five 
hundred women to be burnt alive. 

The ministers, horrified at these acts of cruelty, 
entreated the king not to defile his royal hands with 
blood, but to appoint an executioner to carry out 

The king accepted this advice, and a man named 
Chandagirika — a wretch of unexampled cruelty, who 
loved to torture animals, and had slain his father and 
mother — was sought out and appointed Chief Execu- 
tioner. For his use the king caused to be built a 
prison, which had a most attractive exterior, so that 
men might be tempted to enter it, and thus sufi^er all 
the tortures of hell which awaited them within ; for 
the king had commanded that no man who entered 
this prison should leave it alive. 

One day, a holy ascetic named Balapandita^ un- 
wittingly entered the gate, and was instantly seized 
by the jailer. The holy man, though given seven 
days' respite, was at the end of the term of grace 
ruthlessly cast into a seething cauldron of filth, 
beneath which a great fire was kindled. The cruel 
jailer, looking in, beheld the saint, seated on a lotus, 
and unscathed by fire. The miracle having been 
reported to the palace, the king himself came to see it, 
and being converted by the sight and the preaching 
^ Samudra in the metrical version. 


of the holy man, embraced the true religion and for- 
sook the paths of wickedness. 

The prison was demolished, and the jailer was 
burnt alive. 

The above legend from the AsoMvaddna, which is 
given with further details by Hiuen Tsiang (Beal, ii. 
86), places the ' prison ' or ' hell ' at Pataliputra the 

Another form of the legend, which is merely re- 
ferred to by Hiuen Tsiang without comment, places 
the ' heir at Ujjain in Mdlwa (Beal, ii. 271). 

The conversion of the king, according to Hiuen 
Tsiang, was due to the great saint Upagupta, whom he 
met after the destruction of the ' hell.' With the aid 
of Upagupta, King Asoka summoned the genii and 
commanded them to build stilpas throughout the land 
for the reception of the relics of Buddha's body, which 
had been taken out of the eight stdpas where they had 
originally been enshrined after the cremation of the 
Sakya sage. At the moment of a solar eclipse the 
genii, in obedience to the commands of the king and 
the saint, simultaneously deposited the relics in all 
the stilpas. 

The Avaddna story is that when King Asoka 
desired to distribute the sacred relics of the body of 
Buddha among the eighty-four thousand stUipas 
erected by himself, he opened the SMpa of the Urn, 
wherein King Ajdtasatru had enshrined the cremation 
relics collected from seven of the eight original stilpas. 
The eighth, that at Ramagrama, was defended by the 

M 2 

i8o ASOKA 

guardian Nagas, who would not allow it to be opened. 
The relics thus withdrawn from the StlXpa of the 
Urn were distributed among eighty-four thousand 
stiXpaa, ' resplendent as the autumn clouds,' which were 
erected in a single day by the descendant of the 
Mauryas. 'The worshipful, the fortunate Maurya 
caused the erection of all these st'Apas for the benefit of 
created beings ; formerly he was called on earth Asoka 
the Wicked, but this good work has earned for him 
the name of Asoka the Pious ^.' 

The metrical AvaddTm is still more extravagant than 
the prose form of the tale, and alleges that 3,510 
millions of stilpas were erected at the request of the 
people of Taxila, and that ten millions were erected 
by the Yakshas on the shores of the sea. 


Having erected the eighty-four thousand sMpas, 
King Asoka expressed a desire to visit the holy places 
of his religion. By the advice of his counsellors he 
sent for' the saint Upagupta, son of Gupta the 
perfumer. Upagupta had been in accordance with 
prophecy born a century after the death of Buddha, 
and, when summoned by the king, was dwelling on 
Mount Urumunda in the Natabhatika forest near 

The saint accepted the royal invitation, and, accom- 

^ This passage proves that the hero of the AsoMvaddna is 
Asoka Maurya. 


panied by eighteen thousand holy men, travelled in 
state by boat down the Jumna and Ganges to Patali- 
putra, where he was received with the utmost 
reverence and honour i. 

The king said: 'I desire to visit all the places 
where the Venerable Buddha stayed, to do honour 
unto them, and to mark each with an enduring 
memorial for the instruction of the most remote 
posterity.' The saint approved of the project, and 
undertook to act as guide. Escorted by a mighty 
army the monarch visited all the holy places in order. 
The first place visited was the Lumbini Garden. 
Here Upagupta said: 'In this spot, great king, the 
Venerable One was born ^ ' ; and added : ' Here is the 
first monument consecrated in honour of the Buddha, 
the sight of whom is excellent. Here, the moment 
after his birth, the recluse took seven steps upon the 

The king bestowed a hundred thousand gold pieces 
on the people of the place, and built a sMpa. He 
then passed on to Kapilavastu. 

The royal pilgrim next visited the Bodhi-tree at 
Buddha Gay^, and there also gave a largess of a 
hundred thousand gold pieces, and built a chaitya. 
Rishipatana (Samath) near Benares, where Gautama 
had 'turned the wheel of the law,' and Kusinagara, 
where the Teacher had passed away, were also visited 

^ Compare the story of Tishya, son of Moggali, in the ' Legend 
of the Third Church Council' in chapter vi, p. 170, above. 
^ Compare the Bummindel pillar inscription in chapter v. 

l82 ASOKA 

with similar observances. At Sravasti the pilgrims 
did reverence to the Jetavana monastery, where 
Gautama had so long dwelt and taught, and to the 
stUpas of his disciples, Sariputra, Maudgalslyana, and 
Maha Kasyapa. But when the king visited the stilpa 
of Vakkula, he gave only one copper coin, inasmuch 
as Vakkula had met with few obstacles in the path 
of holiness, and had done little good to his fellow 
creatures. At the sMpa of Ananda, the faithful 
attendant of Gautama, the royal gift amounted to 
six million gold pieces. 


Vitasoka, the king's brother ^, was an adherent of 
the Tirthyas, who reproached the Buddhist monks 
as being men who loved pleasure and feared pain. 
Asoka's eiforts to convert his brother were met by 
the retort that the king was merely a tool in the 
hands of the monks. The king therefore resolved 
to effect his brother's conversion by stratagem. 

At his instigation the ministers tricked Vitasoka 
into the assumption of the insignia of royalty. The 
king when informed of what had happened feigned 
great anger, and threatened his brother with instant 
death. Ultimately he was persuaded to grant the 
offender seven days' respite, and to permit him to 
exercise sovereign power during those seven days. 
During this period the fear of death so wrought upon 
' Vitasoka = Vigatasoka. 


the mind of Vitelsoka that he embraced the doctrine 
of Buddha, in which he was instructed by the holy 
Sthavira Yasas. With difficulty the king was per- 
suaded by the Sthavira Yasas ^ to grant to his brother 
permission to become a monk. In order to initiate 
the novice gradually into the habits of the life of a 
mendicant friar, Asoka prepared a hermitage for him 
within the palace grounds. From this hermitage 
Vitasoka withdrew, first to the KukkutHrama mon- 
astery, and afterwards to Videha (Tirhiit), where 
he attained to the rank of a saint (arhat). When 
Vitasoka, clad in rags, returned to the palace, he was 
received with great honour, and was induced to exhibit 
his supernatural powers. He then again withdrew to 
a distant retreat beyond the frontier, where he fell ill. 
Asoka sent him medicine, and he recovered. 

In those days it happened that a devoted adherent of 
the Brahman ascetics threw down and broke a statue of 
Buddha at Pundra Vardhana in Bengal. As a penalty 
for the sacrilege eighteen thousand inhabitants of 
that city were massacred in one day by order of 
Asoka. Some time after another fanatic at Pataliputra 
similarly overthrew a statue of Buddha. The persons 
concerned, with all their relatives and friends, were 

' The Ceylonese Mahavamsa (ch. iv) represents the Sthavira 
Yasas (Yaso) as a leading personage at the Second or Vaisali 
Council in the reign of Kalasoka, or Asoka I. This fact is one 
of the many indications that Ealasoka is a fiction, and that no 
reliance can be placed on the accounts of any of the three 
church councils. 

i84 ASOKA 

burned alive, and the king placed the price of a dindra 
on the head of every Brahmanical ascetic. 

Now, when the proclamation was published Vita- 
soka, clad in his beggar's garb, happened to be lodging 
for the night in the hut of a cowherd. The good wife, 
seeing the unkempt and dishevelled appearance of her 
guest, was convinced that he must be one of the 
proclaimed ascetics, and persuaded her husband to 
slay him in order to earn the reward. The cowherd 
carried his victim's head to the king, who was horrified 
at the sight, and was persuaded by his ministers to 
revoke the proclamation. Not only did he revoke the 
cruel proclamation, but he gave the world peace by 
ordaining that henceforth no one should be put to 
death '. 

In Fa-hien's version of the legend the brother of the 
king is anonymous. The pilgrim tells us that the 
younger brother of King Asoka lived the life of a 
recluse on the Vulture's Peak hill near Rajagriha, 
where he had attained to the rank of a saint (arhat). 
The king invited the recluse to the palace, but the 
invitation was declined. The king then promised 
that if his brother would accept the invitation, he 
would make a hill for him inside the city. ' Then 
the king, providing all sorts of meat and drink, 
invited the genii, and addressed them thus: "I beg 
you to accept my invitation for to-morrow; but as 
there are no seats, I must request you each to bring 

' The inscriptions prove that Asoka did not abolish capital 


his own." On the morrow the great genii came, each 
one bringing with him a great stone, four or five paces 
square. After the feast, he deputed the genii to pile 
up their seats, and make a great stone mountain ; and 
at the base of the mountain with five great square 
stones to make a rock chamber, in length about 35 
feet, and in breadth aa feet, and in height 71 feet 
or so.' 

The same story is told by Hiuen Tsiang in order to 
explain the origin of the stone dwelling which was 
still to be seen at Pataliputra in the seventh century 
A. D. ^ The name of Mahendra is given to the hermit- 
prince by Hiuen Tsiang, who relates of him a legend, 
which may be compared with that of VitS,soka. The 
two stories have some points in common. 


King Asoka early in his reign had a half-brother, 
the son of his mother, who was younger than the king, 
and belonged to a noble family. The young man was 
extravagant, wasteful, and cruel in disposition. In his 
dress also he aped the royal costume. 

The indignation of the people became so great that 
the ministers ventured to remonstrate with the king, 

' Beal, ii. 91. Major Waddell identifies Mahendra's Hill 
with the Bhikhna Pahari at Patna, on •which the Nawab's 
palace stands, and states that the neighbouring muhalla, or 
ward, is called Mahendru. 

i86 ASOKA 

and to say: 'Your majesty's brother in his pride 
assumes a dignity beyond his due. When the govern- 
ment is impartial, the subjects are contented; when 
the subjects are content, the sovereign is at peace. 
We desire that you should preserve the principles of 
government handed down to us by our fathers, and 
that you should deliver to justice the men who seek 
to change those principles.' 

Then King Asoka, weeping, addressed his brother 
and said: 'I have inherited from my ancestors the 
duty of protecting my people ; how is it that you, my 
own brother, have forgotten my affection and kind- 
ness ? It is impossible for me at the very beginning 
of my reign to disregard the laws. If I punish you, 
I dread the resentment of my ancestors ; if I pass over 
your transgressions, I dread the ill opinion of my 

The prince, bowing his head, admitted his error, 
and begged for nothing more than a respite of seven 
days^. The king granted this request, and threw 
his brother into a dark dungeon, though he provided 
him with exquisite food and all other luxuries. At 
the end of the first day the guard cried out to the 
prisoner : ' One day has gone ; six days are left.' By 
the time the sixth day had expired, the prisoner's 
repentance and discipline were complete. He attained 
at once to the rank of a saint (arhat), and feeling 
conscious of miraculous powers, ascended into the air. 

^ Compare tlie Ceylonese ' Story of Tishya, the Vicegerent ' 
in chapter vi, p. 172, above. 


Asoka went in person to the dungeon, and told his 
brother that having now, contrary to expectation, 
attained the highest degree of holiness he might 
return to his place. Mahendra replied that he had 
lost all taste for the pleasures of the world, and 
desired to live in solitude. Asoka consented, but 
pointed out that it was unnecessary for the prince 
to retire to the mountains, as a hermitage could be 
constructed at the capital. The king then caused 
the genii to build a stone house, as already related. 

Mahendra, after his conversion, journeyed to the 
south of India, and built a monastery in the delta of 
the Kaveri (Cauvery), of which the ruins were still 
visible a thousand years later ^. 

He is also related to have made use of his super- 
natural powers to pass through the air to Ceylon, 
in which island he spread the knowledge of the true 
law, and widely diffused the doctrine bequeathed 
to his disciples by the Master. From the time of 
Mahendra, the people of Ceylon, who had been ad- 
dicted to a corrupt form of religion, forsook their 
ancient errors and heartily accepted the truth. The 
conversion of Ceylon, according to Hiuen Tsiang, took 
place one hundred years after the death of Buddha ^. 

^ Beal, ii. 231. 

' Beal, ii. 246. Compare the legends of the MahavaAsa and, 
Dipavamsa. Hiuen Tsiang, like the Asokdvad&na, placed 
Asoka Maurya a century after Buddha, the date assigned by the 
Ceylonese legend to Kalasoka. 

i88 ASOKA 


In the seventh century A. D. pilgrims were shown 
a itiXpa at Taxila, which was said to have been built 
by Asoka to mark the spot where the eyes of his 
beloved son Kunfila were torn out. The story of 
Kunala is to the following eflfect. 

After the death of his faithful consort Asandhi- 
mitra, King Asoka, late in life, married Tishyara- 
kshita, a dissolute and unprincipled young woman. 
She cast amorous glances "on her stepson Kunala, 
her worthy predecessor's son, who was famous for 
the beauty of his eyes. The virtuous prince rejected 
with horror the advances made by his stepmother, 
who then became filled with ' the spite of contemned 
beauty ^,' and changed her hot love into bitter hate. 
In pursuance of a deep-laid scheme for the destruc- 
tion of him who by his virtue had put her vice to 
shame, the queen with honied words persuaded 
the king to depute Kunala to the government of 
distant Taxila. 

The prince obediently accepted the honourable 
commission, and when departing was warned by his 
father to verify orders received, which, if genuine, 
would be sealed with an impression of the king's 
teeth ^. The queen bided her time, with ever-growing 

^ Spretae iniuria formae (Vergil). 

'^ Mr. Beal has cited an exact English parallel in the verses 
describing the gift of lands to the Rawdon family, as quoted in 
Burke's Peerage, s. v. Hastings : — 


hatred. After the lapse of some months she wrote 
a dispatch, addressed to the viceroy's ministers at 
Taxila, directing them immediately on receipt of the 
orders to put out the eyes of the viceroy, Prince 
Kunala, to lead him and his wife into the mountains, 
and to there leave them to perish. 

She sealed the dispatch with royal red wax, and, 
when the king was asleep, furtively stamped the wax 
with the impression of his teeth, and sent off the orders 
with all speed to Taxila. The ministers who received 
the orders knew not what to do. The prince, noticing 
their confusion, compelled them to explain. The min- 
isters wished to compromise by detaining the prince in 
custody, pending a reference to the capital. But the 
prince would not permit of any delay, and said : ' My 
father, if he has ordered my death, must be obeyed ; 
and the seal of his teeth is a sure sign of the correct- 
ness of the orders. No mistake is possible.' He then 
commanded an outcaste wretch to pluck out his eyes. 
The order was obeyed, and the prince, accompanied by 
his faithful wife, wandered forth in sightless misery 
to beg his bread. 

In the course of their weary wanderings they arrived 
at Pataliputra. ' Alas,' cried the blind man, ' what 

' I, William, king, the third of my reign, 
Give to Paulyn Rawdon, Hope and Hopetowne, 

And in token that this thing is sooth, 

I bit the whyt wax with my tooth. 

Before Meg, Mawd, and Margery, 

And my third son Henry.' {Ind. Ant. ix. 86.) 

190 ASOKA 

pain I suffer from cold and hunger. I was a prince ; 
I am a beggar. Would that I could make myself 
known, and get redress for the false accusations 
brought against me.' He managed to penetrate into 
an inner court of the palace, where he lifted up his 
voice and wept, and, to the sound of a lute, sang a song 
full of sadness. 

The king in an upper chamber heard the strains, 
and thinking that he recognized the voice and touch 
as those of his son, sent for the minstrel. The king, 
when he beheld his sightless son, was overwhelmed 
with grief, and inquired by whose contrivance all 
this misery had come about. The prince humbly 
replied : ' In truth, for lack of filial piety I have thus 
been punished by Heaven. On such and such a day 
suddenly came a loving order, and I, having no means 
of excusing myself, dared not shrink from the punish- 

The king, knowing in his heart that Queen Tishyara- 
kshita was guilty of the crime, without further inquiry 
caused her to be burnt alive, and visited with condign 
punishment every person, high or low, who had any 
share in the outrage. The officials were some dismissed, 
some banished, some executed. The common people 
were, according to one account, massacred, and, ac- 
cording to another, transported across the Himalayas 
to the deserts of Khoten ^- 

' Beal, i. 143, ii. 310; Burnouf, p. 360. Compare the wild 
Tibetan legends about the introduction of Buddhism into Khoten 
in Rockhill, The Life of the Buddha, pp. 232 seqq^. These 


In those days a great saint named Ghosha dwelt 
in the monastery by the holy tree of Mahabodhi. To 
him the king brought Kunala, and prayed that his 
son might receive his sight. The saint commanded 
that on the morrow a great congregation should 
assemble to hear his preaching of the Law, and that 
each person should bring a vessel to receive his tears. 
A vast multitude of men and women assembled, and 
there was not one of those who heard the sermon but 
was moved to tears, which fell into the vessels provided. 

The saint collected the tears in a golden vase, and 
said these words: 'The doctrine which I have ex- 
pounded is the most mysterious of Buddha's teaching ; 
if that exposition is not true, if there is error in 
what I have said, then let things remain as they are ; 
but, if what I have said is true and free from error, 
let this man, after washing his eyes with these tears, 
receive his sight.' 

Whereupon Kunala washed in the tears and received 
his sight. 


Tishyarakshitl, queen of King Asoka, in pursuance 
of her incestuous passion for her stepson, Prince Kunala, 
who repulsed her advances, resolved to avenge herself, 
and, in order to accomplish her purpose, took advan- 

legends mention the saint Tasas as the minister of Asoka the 
Pious. The story of KunWa is folklore. Compare the legend 
of Phaedra and Hippolytus, and Jataka No. 472 (MaMpaduma) 
in the translation by Mr. Rouse, who cites other Indian parallels 
(vol. iv, p. 117). 

192 ASOKA 

tage of the king's sufferings from a dangerous and 
apparently incurable disease, to acquire complete con- 
trol over his mind, and for some days she was granted 
unrestrained use of the sovereign power. 

Asoka, believing his malady to be incurable, gave 
the order : ' Send for Kunala ; I wish to place him on 
the throne. What use is life to me ? ' Tishyarakshita 
hearing these words, thought to herself : ' If Kunala 
ascends the throne, I am lost.' Accordingly she said 
to King Asoka : ' I undertake to restore you to health, 
but a necessary condition is that you forbid all physi- 
cians to have access to the palace.' The king com- 
plied with her request, and she enjoined everybody to 
bring to her any person, man or woman, who might be 
suffering from the same malady as the king. 

Now it happened that a man of the shepherd caste 
was suffering from the same malady. His wife ex- 
plained his case to a physician, who promised to 
prescribe a suitable remedy after examining the 
patient. The man then consulted the physician, who 
brought him to Queen Tishyarakshita. She had him 
conveyed to a secret place, where he was put to death. 
When his body was opened she perceived in his 
stomach a huge worm, which had deranged the bodily 
functions. She applied pounded pepper and ginger 
without effect, but when the worm was touched with 
an onion, he died immediately, and passed out of the 
intestines. The queen then begged the king to eat an 
onion and so recover his health. The king replied : 
' Queen, I am a Kshatriya ; how can I eat an onion ? ' 


' My lord,' answered the queen, ' you should swallow it 
merely as physic in order to save your life.' The 
king then ate the onion, and the worm died, passing 
out of the intestines ^. 


The king resolved to give a thousand millions 
of gold pieces to the Master's service, and when far 
advanced in years had actually given nine hundred 
and sixty millions. In the hope that the vow would 
be completed before he died he daily sent great treasures 
of silver and gold to the Kukkutarama monastery at 
the capital. In those days Sampadi, the son of Kunala ^, 
was heir-apparent. To him the ministers pointed out 
that the king was ruining himself by his extravagance, 
and would, if permitted to continue it, be unable to 
resist the attacks of other monarchs or to protect the 

The prince, therefore, forbade the treasurer to com- 
ply with the king's demands, Asoka, unable to obtain 

' Fa-tien (ch. xvi) notes that the inhabitants of Gangetic 
India did not 'eat garlic or onions, with the exception of 
Chandalas (outcastes) only.' The prejudice exists to this day. 
The high-caste people perceive in onions a fanciful resemblance 
to flesh meat. This story is from the Kunala section of the 
Divy&vaddna in Burnouf, ' Introduction,' p. 133. 

^ The Jain legends represent Sampadi as a great patron of the 
Jain church. Nothing authentic is known about him. The 
legend of Asoka's dotage is given by Burnouf, pp. 381 segq^. 
Compare the Ceylonese story of ' The Last Days of Aaoka ' in 
chapter vi, ante, p. 173. 


194 ASOKA 

supplies from the treasury, began to give away the 
plate which furnished the royal table, first the gold, 
next the silver, and finally the iron. When all the 
metallic ware had been exhausted, the ministers fur- 
nished the king's table with earthenware. Then Asoka 
demanded of them, 'Who is king of this country?' 
The ministers did obeisance and respectfully replied : 
' Your majesty is king.' Asoka burst into tears, and 
cried : ' Why do you say from kindness what is not true 1 
I am fallen from my royal state. Save this half-apple^ 
there is nought of which I can dispose as sovereign.' 
Then the king sent the half -apple to the Kukkutar§,ma 
monastery, to be divided among the monks, who should 
be addressed in this wise : ' Behold, this is my last gift ; 
to this pass have come the riches of the emperor of 
India. My royalty and my power have departed; de- 
prived of- health, of physic, and of physicians, to me no 
support is left save that of the Assembly of the saints. 
Eat this fruit, which is offered with the intent that 
the whole Assembly may partake of it, my last gift.' 

Once more King Asoka asked his minister Radha- 
gupta: 'Who is sovereign of this country?' The 
minister did obeisance and respectfully replied : ' Sire, 
your majesty is sovereign of this country.' 

King Asoka, recovering his composure, responded in 
verse, and said: — 

This earth, encinctured by its sapphire zone. 
This earth, bedecked with gleaming jewels rare, 

' Amalaha fruit, Emblica officinalis. 


This earth, of hills the everlasting throne, 
This earth, of all creation mother fair, 
I give to the Assembly. 

The blessing which attends such gift be mine; 
Not Indra's halls nor Brahma's courts I crave. 
Nor yet the splendours which round monarchs shine, 
And pass away, like rushing Ganga's wave, 
Abiding not a moment. 

With faith unchangeable, which nought can shake, 
This gift of Earth's immeasurable sphere 
I to the Saints' Assembly freely make; 
And self-control I crave, of boons most dear, 
A good which changeth never ^ 

King Asoka, having thus spoken, sealed the deed of 
gift, and presently fulfilled the law of mortality. 

The forty millions of gold pieces which yet remained 
to complete King Asoka's vow for the gift of a thousand 

' According to Tft-hien (chapter xxvii), this gift of the 
empire was recorded in an inscription on a stone pillar to the 
south of Pataliputra. The site of the pillar has not been 
identified with certainty. The speech of Asoka in prose is as 
follows : — 

' This earth, which ocean enwraps in a glorious garment of 
sapphire, this earth whereof the face is adorned with mines 
of diverse jewels, this earth, which supports all creatures and 
Mount Madara, I give to the Assembly. 

' As the reward of this good deed I desire not to dwell in the 
palace of Indra, nor yet in that of BrahmS., nor do I in any wise 
desire the felicity of kingship, which, quicker even than run- 
ning water, passes away and is gone. 

'The reward which I crave for the perfect faith whereby 
I make this gift is that self-control which the saints honour, 
and which is a good exempt from change.' 

N 2 

196 ASOKA 

millions, were expended by the ministers in the 
redemption of the earth, and Sampadi was placed 
upon the vacant throne. He was succeeded by his 
son Vrihaspati, who was succeeded in order by 
Vrishasena, Pushyadharma, and Pushpamitra. 


By the kindness of Dr. Bloch and of Major Alcock, I. M.S., 
Superintendent of the Indian Museum, Calcutta, I am able 
to give the following list of casts of the Asoka inscrip- 
tions in the Indian Museum : — 

I. The Fourteen Rock Edicts and Kalinga Edicts: — 
Girnar, Dhauli, Jaugada, Kalsi, Shahbazgarhi, Mansera 
(except the fourth portion, containing Edict XIII). 

II. Minor Rock Edicts : — Sahasram and Siddapura (ex- 
cept version No. HI, from Jatinga-Ramesvara). 

in. Cave Inscriptions :^The three Barabar Hill records of 
Asoka and the three Nagarjuni Hill records of Dasaratha. 

IV. The Tarai Pillars : — Nigliva and Rummindei 

V. Pillar Edicts and Supplementary Pillar Edicts : — 
Allahabad (including the Queen's and Kau^ambi Edicts), 
Lauriya- Araraj , Lauriya-Nandangarh (Navandgarh). 

The original Bhabra Inscription is preserved in the rooms 
of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. 

Casts of some of the inscriptions also exist in the Provin- 
cial Museum, Lucknow. 


Achaemenian empire, n i . 
Admiralty board, 77. 
Afghanistan, stApas in, 71, 
Agni BrahmS,, nephew of Asoka, 

Agrammes.orDliana Nanda, q.v., 

67. ^ 
Ajatasatru, king, 175, 179. 
Ajtvika, sect, 40, 45,63, 106, 144, 

145, 155- 
Alcock, Major, 196. 
Alexander the Great, death of, 

11,61: Indian conquests of, 66. 
Alexander, king of Epirus, 60, 

63. 131- 
Allahabad, inscribed pillar at, 

94, 96, 100, 105, 157, 196. 
Almoner's department, 24. 
Amala/ca, fruit, 194. 
Amarftvatl, kingdom, 1 29. 
Amazonian guard, 33. 
Amitraghata . (Amitrochades), 

title of BindusSra, 14. 
Ananda, st4pa of, 36, 182. 
Andhra, kingdom, 72, 129, 132. 
Audrokottos, or Chandragupta, 

q.v., 13. 
Animals, sanctity of life of, 27- 

29. 32, 38- 
Ant, queen, 150. 
Antigonua I, king of Asia, 60, 

Antigonus (II) Gonatas, king of 

Macedonia, 60, 62, 64, 131. 
Antiochus Theos, king of Syria, 

60,63,64, 116, 131. 

Anuia, princess of Ceylon, 167, 

Aparantaka, the Bombay coast, 

55, 166. 
Appian, refeiTed to, 13. 
Araohosia, province, 72. 
Aramaic script, 102, no, 142. 
Architeoture, of Maurya period, 

107, III. 
Arian§, province, 66. 
Army,administration andstrength 

of. 13, 76, 77. 
Arrian, referred to, 13. 
Arya-stAavira-nikdya, a school of 

Buddhism, 171. 
Asandhimitra, a queen of Asoka, 

173. i88- 

Ashadha, month, 151. 

Asoka, emperor, lack of biogra- 
phical details of, 5 : history of, 
II : accession of, 15 : conquered 
Kalinga, 15, 26, 63, 69, 103, 
129: took title of Priyadariin 
(Piyadasi), 16, 41 : converted to 
Buddhism, 17, 63 : joined the 
Buddhist Order, 19, 63 : statues 
of, 20: sent out Buddhist mis- 
sions, 21, 22, 50, 55, 132, i66, 
187 : made Buddhism a world- 
religion, 22, 30: provided for 
comfort of man and beast, 22, 
80, 115: established religious 
assemblies and censors, 23, 63, 
64, 74 : established Koyal Al- 
moner's department, 24 : policy 
of, 26-34 '■ ^^"^t °" pilgrimage, 



35 : ethical teaching of, 36 : 
believed in a future life, 37 ; 
practiaed religious toleration, 
38 : his personal name was 
Asoka vardhana, 41 ; belonged 
to Maurya clan, 42 : solemnly 
crowned, 43 : reigned about 
forty years, 44: family of, 44, 
45 : probably succeeded by 
Dasaratha, 45, 65 : perhaps 
convened a feuddhist Council, 
SO : chronology of reign of, 56- 
65 : extent of his empire, 66- 
72 : sMpas ascribed to, 71, 87 : 
administration of, 72-85 : splen- 
dour of his capital, 80 : miti- 
gated severity of criminal law, 
84; erected numerous mono- 
lithic pillars, 94, 99 : rock in- 
scriptions of, loi, 114: arts in 
the age of, 107 : influenced by 
Persian empire, no: Ceylonese 
legend of, 159: traditions of 
death of, 174, 195: Indian 
legends of, 175. 

Asoka tree, 178. 

Asokarftma, monastery, 162, 165, 

AsokSiVad^na, romance, 35, 36, 

179, 180, 187. 
Assyrian influence, in. 
Astragalus moulding, 96. 
Aswastama, rock, 104. 
Athenaios, referred to, 13. 

Babylon, death of Alexander at, 

II : SeleucuB satrap of, 12. 
Bairat, Minor Eock inscription 

at, 105, 138. 
Bakhirft, lion-pillar at, 34, 94, 

98, 112. 
BUapandita, ascetic, 178. 
Bankipore (Bftnklpur), on site 

of Pataliputra, 80, 88. 
Barftbar hill, inscribed caves at, 

106, 144. 
Barahut, or Bharhut, 90. 
BaB^r, the ancient Vaisali, 34. 
Benares, city, 36, 181. 
Besnagar, the ancient Vedisa- 

giri, 46. 92, 94, 162, 167. 

Bhabra, edict, 31, 32, 105, 142, 

Bhadrasara, variant of Bindu- 
sara, q.v., 14. 

Bhagvan (Bhagwan) Lftl In- 
drajl, 103. 

Bhandu, convert to Buddhism, 

Bharhut, sfupa, 90-92. 

Bhikna Paharf, mound, 185. 

Bias, river, 66. 

Bible, contrasted with Asoka's 
teaching, 37. 

Bimbisara, king, 175. 

Biudusara Amitraghata, em- 
peror of India, 14, 15, 43, 62, 
160, 175, 176, 177. 

Bloch, Dr., 196. 

jBo-tree, 167-169, 173, 174. 

Bow, Indian and Ceylonese, 77, 

Brahma, deity, 195. 

Brahmagiri, Minor Rook inscrip- 
tion, 138, 141. 

Brabmans, 16, 17, 34, 139, 155. 

Brabmi, script, 103, 109, no. 

Buddha, date of death of, 56, 
140: symbols of, 113: statues 
of, 113, 183. 

Buddha Gaya, visited by Asoka, 
36, 181. 

Buddhaghosha, credibility of, 5 1 . 

Buddhism, made a world-reli- 
gion by Asoka, 22, 30 : Asoka's 
devotion to, 31 : asserted sanctity 
of life, 38 : a sect of Hindooism, 

Biihler, Dr., 107, 109, Ii6, 120, 

121, 122, 123, 135, 128, 130, 

134. 139. 141. 145, 147. 149. 

152, 155, 156, 157. 158. 
Burnouf, referred to, 36, &c. 

Canon, growth of Buddhist, 54, 

Casts of Asoka inscriptions, 196. 
Caucasus, Indian, 66. 
Cave inscriptions, 144. 
Censors, of Law of Piety, 23, 

64. 74. "9. 129. 154. 155: of 
women, 75, 129. 



Ceylon, Buddhist missions to, 21, 
45. 46, 49. 55. 166, 187: ecu- 
version of, 45-50, 163, 187 : 
chronicles of, 41, 53, 159: 
Tishya, king of, 132, 165 : 
Uttiya, king of, 168. 

Chakhuddnej meaning of, 147, 

Chanakya, Brahman, i6o. 

Chandagirika, executioner, 178. 

Chand^la, outcasts, 193. 

Chandragupta Maurya, history 
of, 11-14, 61, 62, 83, 160, 175. 

Chariots, 77. 

Charumatl, daughter of Asoka, 69. 

Chetiyagiri, monastery, 168 : 
variant for Vedisagiri, 163. 

ChiMsaTcd, meaning of, 116. 

Chinese, 'Sacred Edict,' 7, 25. 

Chola, kingdom, 47, 70, 115, 131. 

ChUUamani, st4pa, 169. 

Ohfiria Giatl, pass, 68. 

Conjeeveram, city, 72. 

Copper bolt, 96. 

Councils, Buddhist, of PHtali- 
putra, Kajagriha, and Vaisali, 
50-54, 165, 166, 169, 183. 

Courtesans, regulation of, 75, 122. 

Cunningham, referred to, 13, 32, 

Curtius, Q., referred to, 1 3. 

Darius, conquest of Panjab by, 

Dasane, meaning of, 124. 
Dasaratha, king, 45, 65, 144, 

Davids, Prof. Rhys, 115, 143, 160. 
Ddyddo sdsane, meaning of, 128. 
Deane, Colonel, 102. 
Death, punishment of, 29. 
D€imachos, ambassador, 14, 62. 
Delhi, inscribed pillars at, 96-98. 
Desam, meaning of, 119, 123. 
Devdnam piya, a royal title, 114, 

Devanam piya Tissa, a king of 

Ceylon, 165. 
Devapaia, son-in-law of Asoka, 

Devi, mother of Mahendra, 163, 


Dhammahdrndtra, or Censor of 
Law of Piety, 23, 64, 74, 154. 

Dhammab'pi, meaning of, 133. 

Dhammapada, quoted, 127. 

Dhammayuta, meaning of, 120, 

Dhana Nanda, king, 11, 67, 160. 

Vharma, translation of, 5, 17. 

Dharmaguptaka, a school of 
Buddhism, 171. 

Dharmasoka, a title of Asoka, 57. 

Dharmavivardhana, a son of 
Asoka, 44. 

Dhauli, rock edicts and sculp- 
tured elephant at, 104, 113, 
129, 134, 136, 196. 

Dinapore (Dbanapur), canton- 
ment, 80. 

Dindra, coin, 184. 

Diodotus, king, 64. 

Dlpavamsa, Ceylonese chronicle, 

41. 52. 159, 187. 
Divyavadana, romance, 193. 
Donors, individual, 92. 
Dravida, kingdom, 72. 
Duff, Miss, on chronology of 

India, 14. 

Ekadesam, meaning of, 123. 
Elephants, war, 77. 

Fa-hien, travels of, 48, 98, 171, 

193. '95- 
Flroz Shah Tughlak, 97, 99, 1 00. 
Plrozabad, in old Delhi, 98, 99. 
Folklore, 191. 

Gablidgdra, meaning of, 122. 
Ganandyam, meaning of, 117. 
Gandhara, province, 44: tribe, 

Gangaridae, nation, 67, 109. 
Garlic, prejudice against, 193. 
Gautama Sakyamuni Buddha, 

22. 34. 35. 182. 
Gedrosia, province, 66. 
Ghaznl, city, 72. 
Ghosha, saint, 191. 
Girnar, hill and inscription, 103, 

107, 114, 116, 120, 124, 125, 

127, 128, 131 : lake, 72, 79. 



Goramasto, pass, 68. 
Graeeo-Koman influence, lii. 
Gupta, father of Upagupta, 53, 

HimUaya, Buddhist mission to, 

21, 65, 9°> 166. 
Hindoo free thought, 39. 
Hindoo Koosh., mountains, 72. 
Hippolytus, legend of, 191. 
Hiuen Tsiang, Chinese pilgrim, 

43. 45, 47, 48, 49, i87- 
Hoernle, Dr., 109. 
Hospitals, perhaps founded by 

Asoka, 23. 
Huns, White, ravages of, 87. 
Hunting, mode of, 33. 
Hyphasis, river, 66. 

Indian Museum, 196. 
Indra, deity, 195. 
Inscriptions, classified, 106. 
Irrigation department, 79. 
Isila, town, 138. 
I-tsing, Chinese pilgrim, 20, 39. 

Jain, sect, 155: traditions, 56- 

58, 193- 
Jalauka, a son of Asoka, 44, 67. 
Jambudipa, India, 139. 
Jdtulia, stories, iii, 191. 
Jatinga-B&mesTara, inscription, 

Jaugada, town and inscription, 

73, 104, 134, 136. 
Jetavana, monastery, 36, 99, 182. 
Jones, Sir William, 6i. 
Jiinftgarh, town, 103. 
Justin, historian, 13,42,58,60,83. 

Kabul, included in Maurya em- 
pire, 86. 

Kikavarnin, king, 175. 

KUfisoka, a fictitious king, 53, 
57, 159, 1S3, 187. 

Kalinga,conque8tof,i5-i8, 26,63, 
69, 103, 129: edicts, 106, 134. 

Kaisl, rock inscription at, 102,113, 

Kamboja, tribe, 120, 132. 

Kanakamuni, stApa of, 35, 64, 
98, 101, 146. 

Kanishka, council of, 54. 
Kapilavaatu, city, 36, 181. 
Kapurdagiri, village, 102. 
K&rttika, month, 151. 
KartLvaki, second queen of Asoka, 

44, 157- 
Kashmir, Buddhist missions to, 

21, 55, 166 : included in Asoka's 

empire, 67. 
Kassapa (Kftayapa), missionary, 

55, 56. 
Kasyapiya, school, 171. 
Kathftvatthu, publication of, 51, 

165, 171. 
Kathiftwar, or Saurashtra, 79. 
Kathmandft, city, 35, 68. 
Kauiambl, edict, 100, 105, 157. 
Kaverl, river, 47, 187. 
Kerala, kingdom, 70, 115. 
Kern, Professor, 6, 20, 122, 128, 

133, I.S9, 152, 155- 
Kesariya, stApa, 34. 
Khaliataka, minister, 177. 
KhaisI, variant of Ksial, j. v., 

Kharavela, inscription of, 40. 
Kharoshthl, script, 102, 109, no. 
Khizrabad, town, 97. 
Khoten, country, 190. 
Konakamana (Konagamana), 

or Kanakamuni, q.v., 35, 146. 
Kos, length of, 80. 
Krishna, river, 129. 
Kshatriya caste, 192. 
Kukkutarama, monastery, 183, 

193, 194- 
Kumarapaia, Chaulukya king, 19. 
Kumrahar, site of Maurya palace, 

Kunaia, legend of, 44, 188-193. 
Kusinagara, town, 34, 36, 181. 

Labranda, temple, 93. 
LajAkd, =rajjiihd, q.v., 148. 
Lalita Patan, city, 68, 69. 
Lauriya-Araraj, inscribed pillar 

at, 34, 100, 196. 
Lauriya-BTaudangarh (Na- 

vandgarh), inscribed pillar at, 

34, 95, ioo, 112, 196. 
Lichchliavi, tribe, 34. 



Iiions, winged, iii. 
Luoknow, MuBeum, 196. 
Iiumbini garden, inscribed pUlar 

marking site of, 34, 36, 42, 64, 

145, 181, 196. 
Luihmini, village, 145. 

Madara, mountain, 195. 
Madura, Pandya capital, 70, 

Magadha, kingdom, 11, 12, 32, 

67. '42. 159- 

Magadhl, dialect, 107, 157. 

Magas.king of Gyrene, 60, 63, 131. 

Maha Arittha, envoy from Ceylon , 

Mahabodhi, tree, 191. 

Mah.adeva, missionary, 55. 

MahadhammarakkMta, mis- 
sionary, 55. 

Mahadharmara^shita, saint, 

Mah.a Kasyapa, saint, 182. 
HVCaha Maliiuda, or Maliendra, 

?.»., 56. 
Maha Mandala, king, 175- 
MaMmdtrd, officials or magis- 
trates, 74, 122, 136. 
Mahamegha, garden, 168, 173. 
Mahanadl, river, 69, 129. 
Mahapaduma jataka, cited, 191. 
MaharakkUta, missionary, 55. 
Maharashtra, the Mahratta 

country, 21, 55, 166. 
Mahasanghika, Buddhist school, 

Mahavamsa, chronicle, 42, 52,55, 

56, 58.59. 159. 171. 183, 187. 
Mahavihara, monastery, 55, 159, 

Mahayana, sect, 49. 
Mahendra, legend of, 45, 48, 49, 

163, 185, 187. 
Mahendra, a ward of Patna, 185. 
Mahiuda, or Mahendra, q. v., 45. 
Mahlpaia, king, 175. 
Mahlsamandala, Mysore, 55, 166. 
MahUasaka, Buddhist school,! 71- 
Majjhantika, missionary, 55. 
Majjhima, missionary, 55, 56. 
Maiakilta, country, 47. 

Mamgalam, meaning of, 125. 
Manju Fatan, city, 68. 
Mansera, rock inscription, 102, 

no, 114, 115, 125, 127, 196. 
Mathiah, see Lauriya-Nandan- 

garh, 100. 
Mathura, city, 180. 
Maudgaiayana, saint, 182. 
Maurya, clan or family, 1 1, 42, 

160: dynasty, 15, 42, 58, 65: 

empire, 67-72, 85, 86 : palace, 

88 : period, 61, 107. 
Max Miiller, on Buddhist legends, 

MoCriudle, works of, 14, 66. 
Meerut, city, 97, 100. 
Megasthenes, ambassador, 13,14, 

62, 66, 75, 80, 81. 
Mesopotamia, no. 
MihintalS, monastery, i68. 
Milestones, 80. 
Milne, translated ' Sacred Edict," 


Minor Bock Edicts, 105, 138. 
Mlrath, see Meerut, 97. 
Missa, mountain, 167. 
Missions, Buddhist, 21, 22, 55, 

132, 166, 187. 
Moggali, father of saint Tishya, 

No. I, 164, 170. 
Mukharj!, Babfl P. C, 88, 92. 
Munda, king, 175. 
Museums, Indian and Lucknow 

Provincial, 196. 
Mysore, Buddhist missions to, 2 1, 

55. 166. 

Nabhiti, tribe, 132. 
ITagarahara, sMpa, 71. 
Wagarjuni, inscribed caves, 45, 

Wanda, dynasty, 42, 43, 159 : 

king, 175. 
If andasara, variant of Bindus^ra, 

q.v., 14. 
Nandrus, or Dhana Nanda, 67. 
Natabhatika, forest, 180. 
ISTepai, kingdom, 35, 36, 41, 67, 

68, 69, 72, loi. 
Uioolas Damascenus, referred 

to, 84. 



Uigllva, inscribed pillar, 98, 99, 

146, 196. 

Higrodlia, legend of, 137, 161. 
Nirgrantha, or Jain sect, 48. 

Oldenberg, opinions of, 45, 46, 

47> 52- 
Oldfleld, ' Sketclies from Nipal,' 

Onion, superatition concerning, 

192, 193. 
Ordination, Buddhist, 20. 

Pada, scribe, 142. 

Paderia, village, loi, 145. 

Paith&na, town, 133. 

FajA {prey a), meaning of, 121. 

Paudrethan, ancient capital of 

Kashmir, 67. 
Pandya, Idngdom, 47, 70, 115, 

Panjab, conquered -by Cbandra- 
gupta, II, 59. 

Parisd, meaning' of, 117, 122. 

Parkham, colossal statue at, 93. 

Paropanisus, mountains, 66. 

Pd?anda, meaning of, 119. 

Pasupatinath, convent, 69. 

Pataliputra, city, 12, 13, 15, 43, 
80, 86, 87,98, 99, loi, 114, 120, 
160, 175, 177, 179, 181, 185, 
189: council, 32, 50-54, 165, 
166, 169: processions at, 118. 

Pativedakd, meaning of, 121, 149. 

Patua, occupies site of Patali- 
putra, 13, 80, 88. 

Pegu, Buddhist mission to, 31, 
56. 166. 

Pergamum, kingdom of, -05. 

Persian influence on India, 

Phaedra, legend of, 191. 

Fhaiguna, month, 151. 

Piety, Law of, 6, 17, 21, 23, 24, 
25. "7. "9. 124. 127, 139, 
I3i> 133, 135. 138, 141, 146, 

147. 149. 153- 

Pillars, list of inscribed, 99 : 
structure of, 94, I lo : trans- 
lation of inscriptions on, 145- 

Pilusftra, stUpa, 71. 

Pingala Vatsftjiva, ascetic, 176. 

Piprava, stUpa, no. 

Pitenika (Pitinika), tribe, 120, 

Piyadasi, title of Asoka, 10, 41. 
Pliny, referred to, 1 3. 
Plutareb, referred to, 13. 
Po-lu-sha, or Shahbazgarhi, loi. 
PradeHhd, district officers, 74, 

116, 148. 
Prakrit, dialects, 107. 
Prasenajit, king, 175. 
Prasii, nation, 67, 109. 
PraUhhagam, meaning of, 130. 
Prinsep, James, 61. 
Priyadarsin, title of Asoka, 16, 

Ptolemy Pliiladelplius, king of 

Egypt, 60, 62, 64, 131. 
Pulinda, tribe, 132. 
Pulisdni, meaning of, 149. 
Punarvasu, day, 151. 
Pundra Vardhana, city, 183. 
Punic war, date of, 63, 65. 
Purftnas, cited, 14, 41, 59. 
Pushpamitra, king, 196. 
Pushyadharma, king, 196. 
Pyrrhus, king of Epirus, 62, 63. 

Q,ueen-ant, an aphrodisiac, 150. 
Queen's Edict, 44, 100, 105, 106, 


Eadbagupta, minister, 177, 194- 
Radhiah, see Lauriya-Araraj, 

Kahula, addiess to, 143. 
Bailings, oi sl-dpas, 90-92, 112. 
Eajagriha (Bajgir), city, 67, 175, 

184 : council of, 50, 169. 
Hajamabendri, kingdom, 129. 
Bajendraiaia Mitra, referred to, 

BajjUJcas, or Commissioners, 74, 

116, 148. 
Bakkhita, missionary, 55. 
Bftmagrama, stUpa, 179. 
Bampurwa, inscribed pillar at, 

96, 100. 
Bashtrika, tribe, 120. 



Begistration of births and 

deaths, 82. 
Bice, Mr., on edicts of Asoka in 

Mysore, 105. 
Eishipatana, or Sam^th, 36, 181. 
Bock Edicts, 101-105, 114, 196. 
Bouse, Mr., translator of Jatakas, 

191., inscription of, 41, 

67, 72. 79- 
Bummindel, inscribed pillar at, 

98, 99, loi, 145, 196. 
Bilpnflth, Minor Kock inscription 

at, 105, 138, 140. 

Sahalin, king, 175. 

SahasT&m, Minor Eock inscrip- 

^ tion at, 105, 138, 196. 

Sakra, god, 169. 

S&kyamuni, a title of Gautama 

Buddha, 140. 
Samdja, meaning of, 115. 
Samflpll, town, 134, 136. 
Samatata, kingdom, 71. 
Sampadl, king, 193, 196. 
Samudra, ascetic, 178. 
Sftuchi, inscribed relic-caskets at, 

S3) 5^) 9° '■ inscribed pillar at, 

105, 158: statue at, 21, 94: 

gtapas at, 88, 167. 
Bandesam, meaning of, 119. 
Sandrokoptos (Sandrokottos), 

or Chandragupta, q.v., 13. 
Sanghamitra, legend of, 45, 46, 

Sflriputra, saint, 182. 
samath, visited by Asoka, 36, 

Sarvastivadina, Buddhist school, 

Satiyaputra, king, no. 
Saurftshtra, province, 79. 
Sdvane savdpite, meaning of, 139. 
Schools, of Buddhism, 171. 
Sculpture, of Maurya period, 

107, 112, 113. 
Seleucus Nikator, history of, 1 2, 

61, 62, 66. 
Senart, M. ^mile, on the Asoka 

inscriptions, 6, 17, 23, 32, 40, 

103, 104, 107, 115, 116, 117, 

119, 120, 121, 122, 123, 124, 
125, 126, 128, 129, 130-134, 
138, 140, 142, 143, 147, 148, 

152, 163- 
Shahbazgarhi, Eock Edicts at, 

loi, 102, 'no, 196. 
Shah. Dheri, site of Taxila, 73. 
Siddapuia, Minor Kock Edicts 

at, 70, 105, 138, 196. 
Sila, meaning of, 119. 
Simhala, or Ceylon, q. v., 48. 
Siud, province, 71. 
Siaunaga, dynasty, 42, 159, 
Smith, v. A., on Graeco-Eoman 

influence, in: on NigUva pillar, 

146 : on site of Ku^inagara, 

36 : on traditions, 58. 
Solinus, referred to, 81. 
S6n, river, 80. 
Sona, missionary, 55. 
Sonari, stUpa, 56. 
Sopara, Bock Edicts at, 103. 
Sovanabhiimi (Suvarna), or 
, Pegu, 55, 166. 
Sravastl, city, 35, 36, 99, 182. 
^rinagar, city founded by Asoka, 

Stadium, length of, 80. 
Stein, Dr., on ancient geography, 

Sthavira, school of Buddhism, 

49. 171- 
Stobaeus, referred to, 84. 
Strabo, referred to, 13. 
St4pas, ascribed to Asoka, 71 : 

construction of, 89 : origin of, 

III : Sanchi group of, 88, 167. 
Subhadrangl, mother of Asoka, 

Sumana, brother of Asoka, 160: 

grandson of Asoka, 163. 
Sumitra, saint, 164. 
Suparsva, a son of Asoka, 45. 
Surparaka, or Sopara, 103. 
Suslma, a son of Bindusara, 1 75, 

Susunaga, or Siaunaga, q. v., 159. 
Suvarnagiri, city, 44, 73, 138. 
Suyasas, a son of Asoka, 45. 
Svasas, kingdom of, 1 76. 
Swat valley, stApas in, 71. 


Syria, kingdom, 12, 13, 62. 


T9.malipti (Tamralipti), or 
TamlUk, 69, 166, 168. 

Tamrasatiya, Bohool of Buddhism, 

Tanjore, city, 48. 

TarSi, Nepalese, 68. 

Tftranath, liistorian, 56, 57. 

Taxila, city, 23,44, 73, 138, 176, 
177, 180, 188, 189. 

Teeth, used as seal, 188. 

Theodotos, or Diodotua, king, 64. 

Thuparama, stApa, 169. 

Tibetan legends, 174, 190. 

Tirhflt, country, 183. 

Tlrthya, opponents of Buddhism, 

Tishya (Tissa), brother of Asoka, 
160, 162, 164, 170, 172, 173: 
constellation, 135, 137 : day, 
151: king of Ceylon, 132, 165: 
month, 151 : saint No. I, son of 
Moggali, 61, 64, 65- 164, 170, 
172 : saint No. II, 164. 

Tishyarakshita, queen of Asoka, 
174, 188, 189, 191, 192. 

Tlvara (Titlvara), ason of Asoka, 

44, 157- 
Toleration of Asoka, 38-40, 128. 
Topra, village, 97, 99. 
Toran, gateways, 91, 112. 
Tosaii, city, 44, 73, 134, 136. 
Tours, pious, 34, 64, 124. 
Trade, regulation of, 82. 
Transliteration, method of, 7. 
Trees, planted by Asoka, 79. 
Triad, Buddhist, 142. 
Tsauktlta, or Arachosia, 72. 
Tulakuohl, king, 175. 
Tushasp, Asoka's governor of 

Saurashtra, 79. 

XTdayabhadra, king, 175. 
tXjjain, city, 23, 44, 73, 138, 160, 

163 : 'hell' at, 179. 
Upagupta, saint, 36, 63. 179. 

180, 181. 
TJpatiahya, ' Questioning of,' 143. 

TTraiyClr, Choja capital, 70, 115, 

TTrumunda, mountain, 180, 
Uttara, missionary, 65- 
TJttiya, king of Ceylon, 168. 

Vaihhddyavddina, school of 

Buddhism, 171. 
Vaisaii, city, 34: council of, 50, 

169, 183: territory, 34. 
Vakkula, saint, 36, 182. 
Valabhi, kingdom, 71. 
Vanavasi, North Kanara, 65, i66. 
Varisara, variant of Bindusara, 

q.v., 14. 
Vedisagiri, the modem Besna- 

gar, 45, 92, 162, 167. 
Vengi, the Andhra capital, 72. 
Vergil quoted, 188. 
Videha, country, 183. 
VigatSsoka CVltasoka), brother 

of Asoka, 176, 182. 
Vinitamhi, meaning of, 122. 
VracTm, meaning of, 122. 
Vrihaspati, king, 196. 
Vrishasena, king, 196. 
Vulture's Peak, hill, 184. 

"WaddeU, Major, discovered site 
of Pataliputra, 81, 185. 

"Warangal, kingdom, 129. 

"Weapons, ancient Indian, 77. 

"Wells, along roads, 79. 

"Wijesinha, revised translation of 
MahSvamsa, 159. 

"Writing, early use of, 109. 

Xandrames, or Dhana Nanda, 
q.v., 67. 

Yakshas, 180. 

Yasas, saint, 63, 183. 

Tavftna (Yona\ regions, 55 : 
tribe, 74, 120, 132. 

Yona-i>hammarakkliita, mis- 
sionary, 55. 

Tuta, meaning of, 116, 120, 121. 

Zeal of Asoka, 30. 



Edited by SiB W. W. HnNTEB, K.C.S.I., M.A., LL.D. 

The following 39 volumes have been abeady published :— 

by Sib William Wilson Hunteb, K.C.S.I. Twenty-second 
Edition ; Eighty-fourth thousand. Price 3>. 6d. 

n. BABAB: the Founder of the Maghal Dynaity. By Stanley 
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The Clarendon Press History of India, 3s. 6d. 


Standaed Edition (Twbntt-seoond), revised to 1895. 


This Edition incorporates the saggestions received by the author 
from Directors of Public Instruction and other educational authorities 
in India; its statistics are brought down to the Census of 1891 ; and 
its narrative to 1892. The work has received the emphatic approval 
of the organ of the English School Boards, and has been translated 
into five languages. It is largely employed for educational purposes in 
Europe and America and as a text-book prescribed by the University 
of Calcutta for its Entrance Examination from 1886 to 1891. 

'"A Brief History of the Indian Peoples," by W. W. Hunter, pre- 
sents a sort of bird's-eye view both of India and of its people from the 
earliest dawn of historical records. ... A work of authority and of 
original value.' — The Daily News (London). 

' Dr. Hunter may be said to have presented a compact epitome of the 
results of his researches into the early history of India ; a subject upon 
which his knowledge is at once exceptionally wide and exceedingly 
thorough.' — The Scotsman. 

' Within the compass of some 250 pxges we know of no history of the 
people of India so concise, so interesting, and so useful for educational 
purposes as this.' — The School Board Chronicle (London). 

' Eor its size and subject there is not a better written or more trust- 
worthy history in existence.' — The Journal of JEducation. 

' So thorougUy revised as to entitle it to separate notice.' — The Times. 

' Dr. Hunter's history, if brief, is comprehensive. It is a storehouse 
of facts marshalled in a masterly style ; and presented, as history 
should be, without the slightest suspicion of prejudice or suggestion of 
partisanship. Dr. Hunter observes a style of severe simplicity, which 
is the secret of an impressive presentation of details.' — The Daily 
Meview (Edinburgh). 

' By far the best manual of Indian History that has hitherto been 
published, and quite equal to any of the Historical Series for Schools 
edited by Dr. Ereeman. We trust that it will soon be read in all the 
schools in this Presidency.' — The Times of India. 

Extract from a criticism by Edward Giles, Esq., Inspector of Schools, 
Northern Division, Bombay Presidency: — 'What we require is a 
book which shall be accurate as to facts, but not overloaded with 
them ; written in a style which shall interest, attract, and guide un- 
cultivated readers ; and short, because it must be sold at a reasonable 
price. These conditions have never, in my opinion, been realized 
previous to the introduction of this book.' 

' The publication of the Hon. W. W. Hunter's " School History of 
India" is an event in literary history.' — Beis & Eat/yet (Calcutta). 

' He has succeeded in writing a history of India, not only in such a 
way that it will be read, but also in a way which we hope will lead 
young Englishmen and young natives of India to think more kindly 
of each other.' — The Sindoo Patriot (Calcutta). 

Opinions of t|)c Press 



' Mr. Stanley Lane-Poole's scholarly monograph, made both interest- 
ing and instructive by the adroitness shown in adjusting the historical 
matter with the biography and anecdotes, is well worth reading. ... 
Mr. Stanley Lane-Poole does justice to Babar's strong and bright 
nature, and his able and brilliant monograph should revive an interest 
in the story of a life so full of adventure.' — The Athenmum. 

' The story of BiCbar's life is more wonderful, more brilliantly 
coloured than the Arabian Nights, and it loses little of its excitement 
in Mr. Stanley Lane-Poole's monograph.' — Spectator, 

' It need hardly be said that Mr. Lane-Poole has done justice to 
such a theme. Yet so strong is the current notion that Oriental 
history must needs be dull that it is worth while to say that in this 
little book there is more of the true element of romance than in tomes 
of "historical novels." It is not often that a book is at once so 
scholarly and so readable.* — Speaker. 

' Mr. Lane-Poole's Bdbar is a model of all that a book of the kind 
should be, and is likely to rank as one of the best of a series the 
reputation of which is deservedly high.' — Times. 

' A work of surpassing interest and permanent value.' — Daily News. 

' A volume at once delightful as literature and valuable as history.' — 
Glasgow Merald. 

' The author's whole sketch is at once scholarly and intensely 
interesting. He has had a fascinating character to portray, and he 
has done it with the hand of a master.' — Madras Mail. 


Fourth Edition-. Seventh Thousand. 

' An interesting and exceedingly readable volume Sir William 

Hunter has produced a valuable . work about an important epoch in 
English history in India, and he has given us a pleasing insight into 
the character of a remarkable Englishman. The "Rulers of India" 
series, which he has initiated, thus makes a successful beginning in his 
hands with one who ranks among the greatest of the great names which 
will be associated with the subject.' — The Times. 

' A skilful and most attractive picture. ... The author has made good 
use of public and private documents, and has enjoyed the privilege of 
being aided by the deceased statesman's family. His little work is, 
consequently, a valuable contribution to modern hisioTy.'— Academy. 

' The book should command a wide circle of readers, not only for its 
author's sake and that of its subject, but partly at least on account of 
the very attractive way in which it has been published at the moderate 
price of half-a-crown. But it is, of course, by its intrinsic merits alone 
that a work of this nature should be judged. And those merits are 
everywhere conspicuous. ... A writer whose thorough mastery of all 
Indian subjects has been acquired by years of practical experience and 
patient research.' — Tlie AthencEum. 

' Sir William Hunter has written an admirable little volume on 
" The Marquess of Dalhousie " for his series of the " Rulers of India." 
It can be read at a sitting, yet its references — expressed or implied — 
suggest the study and observation of half a life-time.' — The Daily News. 

©pinions of tbe lprei50 



Second Edition, Thied Thousand. 
_ ' Sir William W. Hnnter has contributed a brief but admirable 
biography of the Earl of Mayo to the series entitled " Eulers of India," 
edited by himself (Oxford, at the Clarendon Press).'— TAe Times. 

'In telling this story in the monograph before us, Sir William 
Hnnter has combined his well-known literary skill with an earnest 
sympathy and fulness of knowledge which are worthy of all commenda- 
tion. . . . The world is indebted to the author for a fit and attractive 
record of what was eminently a noble life.' — The Academif. 

' The sketch of The Man Is full of interest, drawn as it is with com- 
plete sympathy, understanding, and appreciation. But more valuable 
is the account of his administration. No one can show so well and 
clearly as Sir William Hunter does what the policy of Lord Mayo con- 
tributed to the making of the Indian Empire of to-day.' — The Scotsman. 

' Sir William Hunter has given us a monograph in which there is a 
happy combination of the essay and the biography. We are presented 
with the main features of Lord Mayo's administration unencumbered 
with tedious details which would interest none but the most official of 
Anglo-Indians; while in the biography the man is brought before us, 
not analytically, but in a life-like portrait.' — Vanity Fair. 

' The story of his life Sir W. W. Hunter tells in well-chosen language 
— clear, succinct, and manly. Sir W. W. Hunter is in sympathy with 
his subject, and does full justice to Mayo's strong, genuine nature. 
Without exaggeration and in a, direct, unaffected style, as befits his 
theme, he brings the man and his work vividly before us.' — The 
Qlasgow Herald. 

' All the knowledge acquired by personal association, familiarity with 
administrative details of the Indian Government, and a strong grasp of 
the vast problems to be dealt with, is utilised in this presentation of 
Lord Mayo's personality and career. Sir W. Hunter, however, never 
overloads his pages, and the outlines of the sketch are clear and firm.' 
— The Manchester Express. 

' This is another of the " Eulers of India " series, and it will be hard 
to beat. . . . Sir William Hunter's perception and expression are here at 
their very best.' — The Pall Mall Gazette. 

'The latest addition to the "Bulers of India" series yields to none of 
its predecessors in attractiveness, vigour, and artistic portraiture. . . . 
The final chapter must either be copied verbally and literally — which 
the space at our disposal will not permit — or be left to the sorrowful 
perusal of the reader. The man is not to be envied who can read it with 
dry eyes.' — Allen's Indian Mail. 

' The little volume which has just been brought out is a study of Lord 
Mayo's career by one who knew all about it and was in full sympathy 
with it. . . . Some of these chapters are full of spirit and fire. The 
closing passages, the picture of the Viceroy's assassination, cannot fail 
to mie any reader hold his breath. We know what is going to 
happen, but we are thrilled as if we did not know it, and were still 
held in suspense. The event itself was so terribly tragic that any 
oi'dinary description might seem feeble and laggard. But in this 
volume we are made to feel as we must have felt if we had been on 
the spot and seen the murderer " fastened like a tiger " on the back of 
the Viceroy.' — Dail^ News, Leading Article. 


flDpinions of t&e l^rcss 



Thikd Edition. Foubth Thousand, 

'This new volume of the "Rulers of India" series keeps up to the 
high standard set by the author of " The Marquess of Dalhousie." For 
dealing with the salient passages in Lord Comwallis's Indian career no 
one could have been better qualified than the whilom foreign secretary 
to Lord Lawrence/ — The AthencRum, 

'We hope that the volumes on the "Rulers of India" which are 
being published by the Clarendon Press are carefully read by a large 
section of the public. There is a dense wall of ignorance still standing 
between the average EngUshman and the greatest dependency of the 
Crown ; although we can scarcely hope to see it broken down altogether, 
some of these admirable biographies cannot fail to lower it a little. . . . 
Mr. Seton-Karr has succeeded in the task, and he has not only pre- 
sented a large mass of information, but he has brought it together in an 
attractive form. . . . We strongly recommend the book to all who wish 
to enlarge the area of their knowledge with reference to India,' — New 
York Herald, 

' We have already expressed our sense of the value and timeliness of 
the series of Indian historical retrospects now issuing, under the editor- 
ship of Sir W. W. Hunter, from the Clarendon Press. It is somewhat 
less than fair to say of Mr. Seton-Karr's monograph upon Cornwallis 
that it reaches the high standard of literary worlonanship which that 
series has maintained.' — The Literary World. 


' The story of the Burmese War, its causes and its issues, is re-told 
with excellent clearness and directness.' — Saturday Setiew. 

' Perhaps the brightest volume in the valuable series to which it 
belongs. . . . The chapter on " The English in India in Lord Amherst's 
Governor-Generalship " should bo studied by those who wish to under- 
stand how the country was governed in 1824.' — (Quarterly Renew. 

' There are some charming pictures of social life, and the whole book 
is good reading, and is a record of patience, skill and daring. The 
public should read it, that it may be cliary of destroying what has been 
so toilsomely and bravely acquired.' — National Observer. 

' The book will be ranked among the best in the series, both on 
account of the literary skill shown in its composition and by reason of 
the exceptional interest of the material to which the authors have had 
access.' — St. James's Gazette. 

©pinions of tfje ptess 



Second Edition. Thied Thousand. 

' There is no period in Eastern history so full ot sensation as the 
reign of Aurangzlb. . . . Mr. Lane-Poole tells this story admirably ; 
indeed, it were difficult to imagine it better told.' — National Observer. 

' Mr. Lane-Poole writes learnedly, lucidly, and vigorously. . . . He 
draws an extremely vivid picture of Aurangzlb, his strange ascetic 
cliaraoter, his intrepid courage, his remorseless overthrow of his 
kinsmen, his brilliant court, and his disastrous policy ; and he describes 
the gradual decline of the Mogul power from Akbar to Aurangzlb 
with genuine historical insight.' — The Times, 

' A well-knit and capable sketch of one of the most remarkable, 
perhaps the most interesting, of theMogulEmperors.' — Saturday Review. 

' As a study of the man himself, Mr. Lane-Poole's work is marked 
by a vigour and originality of thought which give it a very exceptional 
value among works on the subject.' — Glasgow Herald. 

' The most popular and most picturesque account that has yet 
appeared ... a picture of much clearness and force.' — Globe. 

'A notable sketch, at once scholarly and interesting.' — English Mail. 

' No one is better qualified than Mr. Stanley Lane-Poole to take up 
the history and to depict the character of the last of the great Mogul 
monarchs. . . . Aurangzfb's career is ever a fascinating study.' — 
Some News. 

' The author gives a description of the famous city of Shith Jah^n, its 
palaces, and the ceremonies and pageants of which they were the scene. 
. . . Mr. Lane-Poole's well-written monograph presents all the most dis- 
tinctive features of Aurangzib's character and career.' — Morning Fast. 


' Major Koss of Bladensburg treats his subject skilfully and attrac- 
tively, and his biography of Lord Hastings worthily sustains the high 
reputation of the Series in which it appears.' — The Times. 

' This monograph is entitled to rank with the best of the Series, the 
compiler having dealt capably and even brilliantly with his materials.' 
— JEnglish Mail. 

' Instinct with interest.' — Glasgow Evening News. 

• As readable as it is instructive.' — Globe. 

• A truly admirable monograph.' — Glasgow Herald. 

' Major Koss has done his work admirably, and bids fair to be one of 
the best writers the Army of our day has given to the country. ... A 
most acceptable and entrancing little volume.' — Daily Chronicle. 

' It is a volume that merits the highest praise. Major Koss of 
Bladensburg has represented Lord Hastings and his work in India 
in the right light, faithfully described the country as it was, and in 
a masterly manner makes one realize how important was the period 
covered by this volume.' — Manchester Courier. 

' This excellent monograph ought not to be overlooked by any one 
who would fully learn the history of British rule in India.' — Manchester 

©pinionsi of tfte Ipress 



Thied Edition. Fifth Thousand. 
' In the character of Dupleix there was the element of greatness 
that contact with India seems to have generated in so many European 
minds, French as well as English, and a broad capacity for govern- 
ment, which, if suffered to have full play, might have ended in giving 
the whole of Southern India to France. Even as it was, Colonel 
Malleson shows how narrowly the prize slipped from French grasp. 
In 1783 the Treaty of Versailles arrived just in time to save the 
British power from extinction.' — The Times. 

' One of the best of Sir W. Hunter's interesting and valuable series. 
Colonel Malleson writes out of the fulness of familiarity, moving with 
ease over a field which he had long ago surveyed in every nook and 
corner. To do a small book as well as this on Dupleix has been done, 
will be recognised by competent judges as no small achievement. 
When one considers the bulk of the material out of which the little 
volume has been distilled, one can still better appreciate the labour 
and dexterity involved in the performance.' — Academy. 

' A most compact and efi'ective history qf the French in India in a 
little handbook of 180 pages.' — Nonconformist. 

'Well arranged, lucid and eminently readable, an excellent addition 
to a most useful series.' — Record. 


FouKTH Edition., Fifth Thousand. 
• Colonel Malleson's interesting monograph on Akbar in the "Eulers 
of India " (Clarendon Press) should more than satisfy the general 
reader. Colonel Malleson traces the origin and foundation of the 
Mughal Empire ; and, as an introduction to the history of Muhamma- 
dan India, the book leaves nothing to be desired.' — St. James's Gazette. 

'This volume will, no doubt, be welcomed, even by experts in 
Indian history, in the light of a new, clear, and terse rendering of an 
old, but not worn-out theme. It is a worthy and valuable addition 
to Sir W. Hunter's promising series.' — The AthentBum. 

' Colonel Malleson has broken ground new to the general reader. 
The story of Akbar Is briefly but clearly told, with an account of what 
he was and what he did, and how he found and how he left India. . . . 
The native chronicles of the reign are many, and from them it is still 
possible, as Colonel Malleson has shown, to construct a living portrait 
of this great and mighty potentate.' — Scots Ohserver. 

' The brilliant historian of the Indian Mutiny has been assigned in 
this volume of the series an important epoch and a strong personality 
for critical study, and he has admirably fulfilled his task. . . . Alike in 
dress and style, this volume is a fit companion for its predecessor.'^ 
Manchester Guardian. 

©pinions of tfje Ipress 



FocETH Edition. Pifth Thousand. 

' The publication, recently noticed in this place, of the " Letters, 
Despatches, and other State Papers preserved in the Foreign Depart- 
ment of the Government of India, 1 772-1 785," has thrown entirely new 
light from the most authentic sources on the whole history of Warren 
Hastings and his government of India. Captain L. J. Trotter's 
Warkbn Hastings is accordingly neither inopportune nor devoid of an 
adequate raison d'Stre. Captain Trotter is well known as a competent 
and attractive writer on Indian history, and this is not the first time 
that Warren Hastings has supplied him with a theme.' — The Times. 

' He has put his best work into this memoir. . . . His work is of 
distinct literary merit, and is worthy of a theme than which British 
history presents none nobler. It is a distinct gain to the British race 
to be enabled, as it now may, to count the great Governor-General 
among those heroes for whom it need not blush.' — Scotsman. 

' Captain Trotter has done his work well, and his volume deserves 
to stand with that on Dalhousie by Sir William Hunter. Higher 
praise it would be hard to give it.' — New York Serald. 

' Captain Trotter has done full justice to the fascinating story of the 
splendid achievements of a great Englishman.' — Manchester Guardian. 

'A brief but admirable biography of the first Governor-General of 
India.' — Newcastle Chronicle. 

' A book which all must peruse who desire to be " up to date " on 
the subject.' — The Globe. 


Second Edition. Thibd Thousand. 

' Mr. Keene has the enormous advantage, not enjoyed by every 
producer of a book, of knowing intimately the topic he has taken up. 
He has compressed into these 203 pages an immense amount of informa- 
tion, drawn from the best sources, and presented with much neatness and 
effect.'— TAc Globe. 

' Mr.Keene tells the story with knowledge and impartiality, and also 
with sufficient graphic power to make it thoroughly readable. The 
recognition of Sindhia in the "Enlers" series is just and graceful, 
and it cannot fail to give satisfaction to the educated classes of our 
Indian fellow-subjects.' — North British Daily Mail. 

' The volume bears incontestable proofs of the expenditure of con- 
siderable research by the author, and sustains the reputation he had 
already acquired by his "Sketch of the History of Hindustan.'" — 
Freeman's Journal. 

' Among the eighteen rulers of India included in the scheme of Sir 
William Hunter only five are natives of India, and of these the great 
Madhoji Sindhia is, with the exception of Akbar, the most illustrious. 
Mr. H. G. Keene, a well-known and skilful vmter on Indian questions, 
is fortunate in his subject, for the career of the greatest bearer of the 
historic name of Sindhia covered the exciting period from the capture of 
Delhi, the Imperial capital, by the Persian Nadir Shah, to the occupation 
of the same city by Lord Lake. . . . Mr. Keene gives a lucid description 
of his subsequent policy, especially towards the English when he was 
brought face to face with Warren Hastings.'— TAe Daily Graphic^ 

©pinions of ttit l^ress 



Third Edition. Foueth Thousand. 

' In " Clyde and Strathnairn," a contribution to Sir William Hunter's 
excellent "Bulera of India" series (Oxford, at the Clarendon Press), 
Sir Owen Burne gives a lucid sketch of the military history of the 
Indian Mutiny and its suppression by the two great soldiers who give 
their names to his book. The space is limited for so large a theme, but 
Sir Owen Burne skilfully adjusts his treatment to his limits, and rarely 
violates the conditions of proportion imposed upon him. . . . Sir Owen 
Burne does not confine himself exclusively to the military narrative. 
He gives a brief sketch of the rise and progress of the Mutiny, and 
devotes a chapter to the Reconstruction which followed its suppression. 
. . . — well written, well proportioned, and eminently worthy of the 
series to which it belongs.' — The Times. 

' Sir Owen Bume who, by association, experience, and relations with 
one of these generals, is well qualified for the task, writes with know- 
ledge, perspicuity, and fairness.' — Saturday Review. 

' As a brief record of a momentous epoch in India this little book is 
a remarkable piece of clear, concise, and interesting writing.' — The 
Colonies and India. 

'Sir Owen Burne has written this book carefully, brightly, and 
with excellent judgement, and we in India cannot read such a book 
without feeling that he has powerfully aided the accomplished editor 
of the series in a truly patriotic enterprise.' — Bombay Gazette. 

*The volume on "Clyde and Strathnairn" has just appeared, and 
proves to be a really valuable addition to the series. Considering its 
size and the extent of ground it covers it is one of the best books about, 
the Indian Mutiny of which we know.' — Englishman. 

' Sir Owen Bume, who has written the latest volume for Sir William 
Hunter's " Eulers of India " series, is better qualified than any living 
person to narrate, from a military standpoint, the story of the suppres- 
siun of the Indian Mutiny.' — Daily Telegraph. 

'Sir Owen Bume's book on "Clyde and Strathnairn" is worthy to 
rank with the best in the admirable series to which it belongs.' — 
Manchester Examiner. 

'The book is admirably written; and there is probably no better 
sketch, equally brief, of the stirring events with which it deals.' 
— Scotsman. 

' Sir Owen Burne, from the part he played in the Indian Mutiny, and 
from his long connexion with the Government of India, and from the 
fact that he was military secretary of Lord Strathnairn both in India 

and in Ireland, is well qualified for the task which he has undertaken.' 

The AtheruBum. 

©pinions of tfie press 



Second Edition. Third Thousand. 

' An exception to the rule that biographies ought not to be entrusted 
to near relatives. Lord Hardinge, a scholar and an artist, has given 
us an accurate record of his father's long and distinguished services. 
There is no filial exaggeration. The author has dealt with some con- 
troversial matters with skiU, and has managed to combine truth with 
tact and regard for the feelings of others.' — The Saturday Meview. 

'This interesting life reveals the first Lord Hardinge as a brave, 
just, able man, the very soul of honour, admired and trusted equally 
by fiiends and political opponents. The biographer . . , has produced a 
most engaging volume, which is enriched by many private and official 
documents that have not before seen the light.' — The Anti-Jacohin. 

' Lord Hardinge has accomplished a grateful, no doubt, but, from 
the abundance of material and delicacy of certain matters, a very 
difficult task in a workmanlike manner, marked by restraint and 
lucidity.'— rAe Pall Mall Gazette. 

' His son and biographer has done his work with a true appreciation 
of proportion, and has added substantially to our knowledge of the 
Sutlej Campaign.' — Vanity Fair. 

' The present Lord Hardinge is in some respects exceptionally well 
qualified to tell the tale of the eventful four years of his father's 
Governor-Generalship.' — The Times. 

'It contains a full account of everything of importance in Lord 
Hardinge's military and political career ; it is arranged ... so as to 
bring into special prominence his government of India ; and it gives 
a lifelike and striking picture of the man.' — Academy. 

' The style is clear, the treatment dispassionate, and the total result 
a manual which does credit to the interesting series in which it figures.' 
—The Globe. 

' The concise and vivid account which the son has given of his 
father's career will interest many readers.' — The Morning Post. 

' Eminently readable for everybody. The history is given succinctly, 
and the unpublished letters quoted are of real value.' — The Colonies 
and India. 

' Compiled from public documents, family papers, and letters, this 
brief biography gives the reader a clear idea of what Hardinge was, 
both as a soldier and as an administrator.'— TAe Manchester Examiner. 

' An admirable sketch.' — The New YorJc Herald. 

' The Memoir is well and concisely written, and is accompanied by 
an excellent likeness after the portrait by Sir Francis Grant.'— TAe 

©pinions of tU Ipress 



Thikd Edition. Fourth Thousand. 

'Sir Henry Cuimingham's rare literary skill and his knowledge 
of Indian life and affairs are not now displayed for the first time, 
and he has enjoyed exceptional advantages in dealing with his 
present subject. Lord Granville, Canning's contemporary at school 
and colleague in public life and one of his oldest friends, furnished his 
biographer with notes of his recollections of the early life of his friend. 
Sir Henry Cunningham has also been allowed access to the Diary of 
Canning's private secretary, to the Journal of his military secretary, 
and to an interesting correspondence between the Governor-General 
and his gi'eat lieutenant. Lord Lawrence.' — The Times. 

' Sir H. S. Cunningham has succeeded in writing the history of a 
critical period in so fair and dispassionate a manner as to make it 
almost a matter of astonishment that the motives which he has so 
clearly grasped should ever have been misinterpreted, and the results 
which he indicates so grossly misjudged. Nor is the excellence of hia 
work less conspicuous from the literary than from the political and 
historical point of view.' — Glasgow Serald. 

' Sir H. S. Cunningham has treated his subject adequately. In vivid 
language he paints his word-pictures, and with calm judicial analysis 
he also proves himself an able critic of the actualities, causes, and results 
of the outbreak, also a temperate, just appreoiator of the character and 
policy of Earl Canning.' — The Court Journal, 



Second Edition. Thied Thousand. 

' Mr. Hutton has brought to his task an open mind, a trained 
historical judgement, and a diligent study of a great body of original 
material. Hence he is enabled to present a true, authentic, and 
original portrait of one of the greatest of Anglo-Indian statesmen, 
doing full justice to his military policy and achievements, and also to 
his statesmanlike efforts for the organization and consolidation of that 
Empire which he did so nnich to sustain.' — The Times. 

' To the admirable candour and discrimination which characterize 
Mr. Hutton's monograph as an historical study must be added the 
literary qualities which distinguish it and make it one of the most 
readable volumes of the series. The style is vigorous and picturesque, 
and the arrangement of details artistic in its just regard for proportion 
and perspective. In short, there is no point of view from which the work 
deserves anything but praise.' — Glasgow Serald. 

' The Rev. W. H. Hutton has done his work well, and achieves with 
force and lucidity the task he sets himself: to show how, under 
Wellesley, the Indian company developed and ultimately became the 
supreme power in India. To our thinking his estimate of this great 
statesman is most just.' — Blach and White. 

' Mr. Hutton has told the story of Lord Wellesley's life in an admir- 
able manner, and has provided a most readable book.' — Manchester 

' Mr, Hutton's range of information is wide, his division of subjects 
appropriate, and hia diction scholarly and precise.' — Saturday Review.- 

©pinions of t&e l^ress 



Third Edition, Fodbth Thousand. 

' We can thoroughly praise Sir Lepel Griffin's work as an accurate 
and appreciative account of the beginnings and growth of the Sikh 
religion and of the temporal power founded upon it by a strong and 
remorseless chieftain.' — The Times. 

' Sir Lepel Griffin treats his topic with thorough mastery, and his 
account of the famous Mah^r^j^ and his times is, consequently, one of 
the most valuable as well as interesting volumes of the series of which 
it forms a part.' — The CHobe. 

' From first to last it is a model of what such a work should be, and 
a, classic' — The St. Stephen's Bemew. 

' The monograph could not have been entrusted to more capable 
hands than those of Sir Lepel Griffin, who spent his official life in the 
Punjaub.' — The Scotsman. 

' At once the shortest and best history of the rise and fall of the 
Sikh monarchy.' — The Nm-th British Daily Mail. 

' Not only a biography of the Napoleon of the East, but a luminous 
picture of his country ; the chapter on Sikh Theocracy being a notable 
example of compact thought.' — The Liverpool Mercury. 


Second Edition. Thikd Thousand. 

' The " Kulers of India" series has received a valuable addition in 
the biography of the late Lord William Bentinck. The subject of this 
interesting memoir was a soldier as well as a statesman. He was 
mainly instrumental in bringing about the adopti(fti of the overland 
route and in convincing the people of India that a main factor in Eng- 
lish policy was a disinterested desire for their welfare. Lord William's 
despatches and minutes, several of which are textually reproduced in 
Mr. Boulger's praiseworthy little book, display considerable literary 
skill and are one and all State papers of signal worth.' — Daily Tele- 

' Mr. Boulger is no novice in dealing with Oriental history and 
Oriental affairs, and in the career of Lord William Bentinck he has 
found a theme very much to his taste, which he treats with adequate 
knowledge and literary skill.' — The Times. 

' Mr. Boulger writes clearly and well, and his volume finds an ac- 
cepted place in the very useful and informing series which Sir William 
Wilson Hunter is editing so ably.' — Independent. 

j3Dpmion0 of tU Iptess 



Second Edition. Third Thousand. 

' Sir William Hunter, the editor of the series to which this book 
belongs, was happily inspired when he entrusted the Life of Elphin- 
stone, one of the most scholarly of Indian rulers, to Mr. Cotton, who, 
himself a scholar of merit and repute, is brought by the nature of his 
daily avocations into close and constant relations with scholars. . . , We 
live in an age in which none but specialists can afford to give more time 
to the memoirs of even the most distinguished Anglo-Indians than will 
be occupied by reading Mr. Cotton's two hundred pages. He has per- 
formed his task with great skill and good sense. This is just tlie kind 
of Life of himself which the wise, kindly, high-souled man, who is the 
subject of it, would read with pleasure in the Elysian Fields.' — Sir M. 
E. Grant Duff, in The Academy. 

' To so inspiring a theme few writers are better qualified to do ample 
justice than the author of" The Decennial Statement of the Moral and 
Material Progress and Condition of India." Sir T. Colebrooke's larger 
biography of Elphinstone appeals mainly to Indian specialists, but 
Mr. Cotton's slighter sketch is admirably iidapted to satisfy the growing 
demand for a knowledge of Indian history and of the personalities of 
Anglo-Indian statesmen which Sir William Hunter has done so much 
to create.' — The Times. 


' A most valuable, compact and interesting memoir for those looking 
forward to or engaged in the work of Indian administration.' — Scotsman. 

' It is a careful and sympathetic survey of a life which should always 
serve as an example to the Indian soldier and civilian.' — Yorkshire Post. 

' A true and vivid record of Munro's life-work in almost auto- 
biographical form.' — Glasgow Herald. 

' Of the work before us we have nothing but praise. The story of 
Munro's career in India is in itself of exceptional interest and im- 
portance.' — Freeman's Journal. 

' The work could not have been better done ; it is a monument of 
painstaking care, exhaustive research, and nice discrimination.' — People. 

'This excellent and spirited little monograph catches the salient 
points of Munro's career, and supplies some most valuable quotations 
from his writings and papers.' — Manchester Guardian. 

' It would be impossible to imagine a more attractive and at the 
same time instructive book about India.' — Liverpool Courier. 

' It is one of the best volumes of this excellent series.' — Imperial and 
Asiatic Quarterly Heview. 

' The book throughout is arranged in an admirably clear manner and 
there is evident on every page a desire for truth, and nothing but the 
truth.' — Commerce. 

' A clear and scholarly piece of work.' — Indian Journal of Education. 

©pinions of tbz Ipregs 



Second Edition. Third Thousand. 

' Mr. Stephens' able and instructive monograph . . . We may commend 
Mr. Morse Stephens' volume, both as an adequate summary of an 
important period in the history of the relations between Asia and 
Europe, and as a suggestive treatment of the problem of why Portugal 
failed and England succeeded in founding an Indian Empu-e.' — The 

' Mr. H. Morse Stephens has made a very readable book out of the 
foundation of the Portuguese power in India. According to the 
practice of the series to which it belongs it is called a life of ASfonso de 
Albuquerque, but the Governor is only the central and most important 
figure in a brief history of the Portuguese in the East down to the time 
when the Dutch and English intruded on their preserves ... A plea- 
santly-written and trustworthy book on an interesting man and time.' 
— The Saturday Seview. 

' Mr. Morse Stephens' Albuqiierque is a solid piece of work, well put 
together, and full of interest.' — The AthencBum, 

' Mr. Morse Stephens' studies in Indian and Portuguese history have 
thoroughly well qualified him for approaching the subject . . . He has 
presented the facts of Albuquerque's career, and sketched the events 
marking the rule of his predecessor Almeida, and of his immediate 
successors in the Governorship and Ticeroyalty of India in a compact, 
lucid, and deeply interesting form.' — The Scotsman. 


Third Edition. Fourth Thousand. 
' No man knows the policy, principles, and character of John 
Lawrence better than Sir Charles Aitohison. The salient features 
and vital principles of his work as a ruler, first in the Punjab, and 
afterwards as Viceroy, are set forth with remarkable clearness.' — 

' A most admirable sketch of the great work done by Sir John 
Lawrence, who not only ruled India, but saved it.' — Manchester 

' Sir Charles Aitchison's narrative is uniformly marked by directness, 
order, clearness, and grasp ; it throws additional light into certain 
nooks of Indian affairs ; and it leaves upon the mind a very vivid 
and complete impression of Lord Lawrence's vigorous, resourceful, 
discerning, and valiant personality.' — Newcastle Daily Chronicle. 

' Sir Charles knows the Punjab thoroughly, and has made this little 
book all the more interesting by his account of the Punjab under John 
Lawrence and his subordinates.' — Yorkshire Post. 

©pinions of tU Ptess 



Second Edition. Third Thousand. 

'Mr.Bowring'sportraitsare just, and his narrative of the continuous 
military operations of the period full and accurate.' — The Times. 

'The story hae been often written, but never better or more con- 
cisely than here, where the father and son are depicted vividly and 
truthfully "in their habit as they lived." There is not a volume of 
the whole series which is better done than this, or one which shows 
greater insight.' — Daily Chronicle. 

' Mr. Bowring has been well chosen to write this memorable history, 
because he has had the best means of collecting it, having himself 
formerly been Chief Commissioner of Mysore. The account of the 
Mysore war is well done, and Mr. Bowring draws a stirring picture of 
our deteimined adversary.' — Army and Navy Gazette. 

*An excellent example of compression and precision. Many volumes 
might be written about the long war in Mysore, and we cannot but 
admire the skill with which Mr. jiowring has condensed the history of 
the struggle. His book is as terse and concise as a book can be.*— 
North British Daily Mail. 

' Mr. Bowring's book is one of the freshest and best of a series most 
valuable to all interested in the concerns of the British Empire in the 
East.' — JEnglish Mail. 

' The story of the final capture of Seringapatam is told with skill 
and graphic power by Mr. Bowring, who throughout the whole work 
shows himself a most accurate and interesting historian.' — Perthshire 


Second Edition. Third Thousand, 

■This book gives a spirited and accurate sketch of a very extra- 
ordinary personality.' — Speaker. 

' Colonel Malleson writes a most interesting account of Clive's great 
work in India — so interesting that, having begun to read it, one is 
unwilling to lay it aside until the last page has been reached. The 
character of Clive as a leader of men, and especially as a cool, intrepid, 
and resourceful general, is ably described ; and at the same time the 
author never fails to indicate the far-reaching political schemes which 
inspired the valour of Clive and laid the foundation of our Indian 
Empire.' — North British Daily Mail. 

' This monograph is admirably written by one thoroughly acquainted 
and in love with his subject.'— ffZasgow Serald. 

' No one is better suited than Colonel Malleson to write on Clive, 
and he has performed his task with distinct success. The whole narra- 
tive is, like eveiything Colonel Malleson writes, clear and full of 
vigour.' — Yorkshire Fast. 

* Colonel Malleson is reliable and fair, and the especial merit of his 
book is that it always presents a clear view of the whole of the vast 
theatre in which Clive gradually produces such an extraordinary change 
of scene.' — Newcastle Daily Chronicle, 

©pinions of t&e IPress 



*A -vivid account of the causes, conduct, and consequences of "the 
costly, fruitless, and unrighteous" Afghan War of iSiS.'—St. James's 

' To write such a monograph was a thankless task, but it has been 
accomplished with entU-e success by Captain L. J. Trotter. He has 
dealt calmly and clearly with Lord Auckland's policy, domestic and 
military, with its financial results, and with the general tendency of 
Lord Auckland's rule.' — Yorkshire Post. 

'To this distressing story (of the First Afghan War) Captain Trotter 
devotes the major portion of his pages. He tells it well and forcibly ; 
but is drawn, perhaps unavoidably, into the discussion of many topics 
of controversy which, to some readers, may seem to be hardly as yet 
finally decided. ... It is only fair to add that two chapters are devoted 
to "Lord Auckland's Domestic Policy," and to his relations with 
" The Native States of India." '—The Times. 

' Captain Trotter's Barl of Auckland is a most interesting book, and 
its excellence as a condensed, yet luminous, history of the first Afghan 
War deserves warm recognition.' — Scotsman. 

' It points a moral which our Indian Eulers cannot afford to forget 

so long as they still hstve Kussia and Afghanistan to count with.' 

Glasgow Herald, 

Supplementary Volume: pric^ 38. 6d. 


' Sir K. Temple's book possesses a high value as a dutiful and 
interesting memorial of a man of lofty ideals, whose exploits were 
none the less memorable because achieved exclusively in the field 
of peaceful administration.' — The Times. 

' It is the peculiar distinction of this work that it interests a reader 
less in the official than in the man himself.' — Scotsman. 

' This is a most interesting book : to those who know India, and 
knew the man, it is of unparalleled interest, but no one who has 
the Imperial instinct which has taught the English to rule subject 
races "for their own welfare" can fail to be struck by the simple 
greatness of this character.' — Pall Mall Gazette. 

' Mr. Thomason was a great Indian statesman. He systematized 
the revenue system of the North-West Provinces, and improved every 
branch of the administration. He was remarkable, like many great 
Indians, for the earnestness of his religious faith, and Sir Richard 
Temple brings this out in an admirable manner.' — British Weekhj. 

'The book is "a portrait drawn by the hand of affection," of one 
whose life was " a pattei-n of how a Christian man ought to live." 
Special prominence is given to the religious aspects of Mr. Thomason's 
character, and the result is a very readable biographical sketch.' — 

©pinions of tfje IPress 



' The concluding volume of Sir William Hunter's admirable " Rulers 
of India" series is devoted to a biography of John Russell Colvin, 
Mr. Colvin, as private secretary to Lord Auckland, the Governor- 
General during the first Afghan War, and as Lieutenant-Governor of 
the North- West Provinces during the Mutiny, bore a prominent part 
in the government of British India at two great crises of its history. 
His biographer is his son. Sir Auckland Colvin, vpho does full justice to 
his father's career and defends him stoutly against certain allegations 
which have passed into history. ... It is a valuable and effective 
contribution to an admirable series. In style and treatment of Ita 
subject it is well worthy of its companions.' — The Times. 

' The story of John Colvin's career indicates the lines on which the 
true history of the first Afghan War and of the Indian Mutiny should 
be written. . . . Not only has the author been enabled to make use 
of new and valuable material, but he has also constructed therefrom 
new and noteworthy explanations of the position of affairs at two turning, 
points in Indian history,' — Academt/. 

' High as is the standard of excellence attained by the volumes of 
this series, Sir Auckland Colvin's earnest work has reached the high- 
water mark.' — Army and Navy Gazette. 

Sir Auckland Colvin gives us an admirable study of his subject, both 
as a man of affairs and as a student in private life. In doing this, his 
picturesque theme allows him, without outstepping the biographical 
limits assigned, to present graphic pictures of old Calcutta and Indian 
life in general.' — Manchester Courier. 

' This little volume contains pictures of India, past and present, which 
it would be hard to match for artistic touch and fine feeling. We wish 
there were more of the same kind to follow.' — St. James's Oazette. 


' An admirable account of the work done by one of the greatest and 
most neble of the men who have adorned our Indian Empire. . . . No 
man is better qualified to write about the defence of the Residency than 
General Innes. — The Athenaeum. 

' We can cordially recommend this account of the modern Christian 
hero.' — Academy. 

' A sympathetic sketch. General Innes tells his story with soldierly 
brevity and a sturdy belief in his hero.' — The Times. 

' The lessons taught by Sir Henry Lawrence's work in India are, 
perhaps, at this moment as deserving of serious reflection as at any time 
since his death. We welcome this excellent little biography of the 
great soldier-civilian by a distinguished of&cer of exceptional knowledge 
and experience.' — Daily News. 

' This book is a very good memoir, as nearly as possible what a book 
of the kind should be.' — Scotsman,